In his eighth season as a snowplow driver, Jon Yankovec starts work at 2 a.m. when snow falls in Shoreview.
He receives a one-hour warning by phone but he usually already knows the nights he’ll need to plow, he said while freshening up his plowing skills at a training at the state fairgrounds this month. He drives from his house in Coon Rapids to a Ramsey County garage near Hamline Avenue and Highway 96 to start up the plow.
“I get to work as soon as I can,” he said. The goal is to beat the rush hour traffic. Then he takes a rest and re-plows after rush hour.
He has 17 routes of Ramsey County roads, mostly in the Shoreview area — Lexington Avenue, Victoria Street, Hamline Avenue, County Road J, County Road I, County Road F....
Yankovec said the most important thing for drivers to be aware of around snowplows is that plows are 16 feet, 6 inches wide and road lanes are 12 feet wide.
“We need a lot of space to do our
ob,” he noted. He encourages drivers to stay far away from plows for everyone’s safety.
He’s been plowing in the Shoreview area for six years. Last year, he was the Minnesota Snowplow “Roadeo” champion for being the best at an obstacle course at the St. Cloud Public Works Facility.
The course is similar to the SPOT (Snowplow Operations Training) course at the state fairgrounds, where plowers for the cities of St. Paul, Minneapolis and Hennepin County trained last month. Four new Ramsey County employees were among the about 50 new snowplow drivers being trained.
Ramsey County plows 292 miles of roads, mostly in the suburbs but also some routes in St. Paul, said Maintenance Engineer Jerry Auge, a White Bear Lake Area High School alum.
The county has 28 plows and two graders. There is about 40 staff that take care of the roads.
In the spring, summer and fall, staff continues to work for the county on other projects, such as paving, mowing or fixing guardrails, Yankovec said.