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Minnesota spent a record $130M on snow removal, $50M above average

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We hate to throw a snowball at you on such beautiful summer day, but MnDOT officials are reporting this icy news nugget: Minnesota spent a record $130 million on snow and ice removal during the last winter driving season – $50 million above average.

"We want you to know that your safety on our roadways is critically important to this department, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that you can travel as safely as possible on Minnesota roadways," MnDOT chief operating officer Tracy Hatch says in a new 1-minute video explainer (watch above).

And "whatever it takes" includes spending "significant resources," Hatch says. Salting and plowing costs have really piled up in recent years: Hatch notes that three of the last four winters were historic, increasing a 10-year average to about $80 million spent each year on snow and ice removal.

So spending a record $130 million gives you a sense of just how off-the-charts bad it was last winter, when local municipalities found their own salt and sand budgets stretched thin.

MnDOT officials have said the costliest winter prior to last winter was in 2012-13, when about $112 million was spent scraping ice and snow from the roads. Prior to that, the record was $81.1 million, in 2010-11.

Time to start thinking about the coming winter? It is if you are a local road safety official.

St. Louis County Board in northeast Minnesota has already moved to buy 33 million pounds of salt – $1.4 million worth, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

Minnesota roads officials note that while they take highway safety very seriously, they expect drivers to do their part to keep safety their top priority.

State Patrol officials have noted that in most one-vehicle winter accidents, the snow and ice is not to blame – it's the driver going too fast for conditions.

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