Those who travel throughout the state of Minnesota know that current road conditions can be found through MnDOT's 511 traveler information system. However, you may wonder how they get that information updated so quickly.

MnDOT uses the data gathered from Road Weather Information Systems that are located within the state. In addition, that information is sent to the National Weather Service. MnDOT also uses each site, along with camera images, to help make maintenance decisions.

This week, MnDOT announced that a $1.5 million project is underway that is allowing them to upgrade or install new RoadWeather Information Systems (RWIS) in Northern Minnesota and once complete, the new systems will be added to 511 traveler information sites.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

The installation process began on Monday, May 15. Motorists in the installation areas can expect to see crews out working, but no detours should be required. Work will be completed under traffic with flagging operations when lane closures are required for everyone’s safety.

The new RWIS installation locations include:

  • Hwy 53 near Piedmont Ave., Duluth (MP 2.7)
  • I-35 near Moose Lake (MP 216)
  • Highway 61 near Grand Marais (Milepost 110.8)
  • Hwy 61 near Schroeder (MP 78.9)
  • Hwy 1 near Stony River (MP 309.9)
  • Hwy 2 near Solway (MP 99.7)
  • Hwy 1 near Warren (MP 11.5)
  • Hwy 11 near Karlstad (MP 37.7)
  • Hwy 371 near Nisswa (MP 46.2)
  • Hwy 169 near Princeton (MP 176.9)
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MnDOT says that three current RWIS sites will receive upgrades. The locations include Hwy 61 near Grand Portage, Hwy 38 near Marcell, and Hwy 171 near St. Vincent.

They add that each RWIS site is an environmental sensor station used to collect weather data like temperatures, wind speed, pavement conditions and visibility. RWIS sites also offer camera views of the highway.

The project is expected to be completed in September 2023 and once completed there will be a total of 163 RWIS sites located throughout Minnesota.

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