Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Winter Work Zone Safety

Side shot picture of an orange snow plow truck plowing snow on a highway road.

Roads are closed to keep you safe

Keeping roads clear and open are MnDOT's major priorities, but when absolutely necessary MnDOT will close roads until they're safe for motorists to drive through.

Why does MnDOT close roads during a winter storm?

  • When extreme snowfall and loss of visibility make driving dangerous, we may need to close roads for the safety of both motorists and snowplow operators.
  • We only close roads in extreme blizzard, whiteout conditions—when it isn't even safe for our drivers to be out. The intent is to keep the motorists in towns that can accommodate them.

What do the road closure devices look like?

  • Road closure devices may include barricades, flashing lights or gates lowered across the roadway. They inform motorists the road is not safe for travel. Their only option is to turn around and get off the road quickly.

Who decides to close highways?

  • The decision to close a highway is made by MnDOT staff, with input from local law enforcement and the Department of Public Safety. MnDOT makes every effort to give as much advanced warning as possible when the roads need to be closed.

How will MnDOT notify motorists of road closures in rural areas?

  • In addition to closed gates and other devices, MnDOT uses 511 - Traveler Information and news media to issue road-closing notices.

Use caution and avoid fines

  • Motorists may risk danger and a fine if they ignore road-closing devices.

Benefits of the road closure system

  • Unmistakable notice that the road is closed
  • Reduction in number of accidents and stranded vehicles
  • Reduction in delays for motorists once the storm is over due to fewer stranded vehicles
  • Ability to clear the roadways faster after the storm