Archived Story

Progress 2011: The Sweeper

Published 5:00pm Monday, March 14, 2011

32 miles of roadways in Freeborn County are on Randy Kolling’s route. However, when blading snow, he drives a total of 64 miles, as he must blade both lanes on the road. At no more than 25 miles per hour, it can take up to six hours total to complete his route one time. “Most of the times if it’s still snowing, you have to go do the roads again,” he said.

Randy Kolling has been a maintenance worker with the Freeborn County Highway Department for 25 years. -- Michelle Haacke/Albert Lea Tribune

6 motor graders that belong to the county. Each motor grader plows about 30 miles of roads in the winter months. In the summer, four motor graders maintain about 55 miles each of gravel roads.

407 miles of hard-surfaced roads the Freeborn County Highway Department is responsible for. An additional 223 miles of gravel added to that gives the county 630 total miles of roadway that they are in charge of plowing, grading and performing general maintenance work.

75 dollars per ton is the cost of salt for roads in the winter. A salt and sand mixture brings costs down at $47 per ton. Each truck uses an average of two 15-ton loads.

10,000 road signs within the area that the highway department is in charge of. Of those signs, 4,440 are stop signs or the black and white speed indicator signs. A new 36 inch by 36 inch stop sign that meets the current retro-reflectivity standards costs $55. That’s just the cost of the sign; it doesn’t include cost of labor.

45 full-time employees the department had in 1965. In 2011, that number had dropped to 26. The evolution of equipment is a big reason for this decrease, as the county staff runs on fewer maintenance workers than it did 40 years ago.

Hero: Randy Kolling
Secret identity: maintenance worker
Base of operations: Freeborn County Highway Department, Albert Lea
Superpowers: working with experienced people who give a lot of support and help
Kryptonite: Sometimes you plan, but the weather is unpredictable at times.
Affiliations: wife, Deb; sons Josh and Wade; daughter, Beth
Origin: Kolling has a construction background, which brought him to the Freeborn County Highway Department more than 25 years ago.