October 20, 2020

MnDOT rethinks no-spray ditch program after yanking ‘Do Not Spray’ signs

For more than a decade David Weissing has mowed and tended the ditch along Highway 14 where his family lives in Winona County, lopping off the heads of invasive plants such as thistle and wild parsnip because he doesn’t want chemicals sprayed there.

Like six other farmers in the region, he had a metal “Do Not Spray” sign posted to remind maintenance crews of that — until a Minnesota Department of Transportation crew yanked it without warning last month.

The no-spray agreements in that part of the state were being terminated, they told him. Now, MnDOT officials say that is not the case, and blame the mix-up on muddled communication while it re-examines the program.

“It was sort of the cart before the horse,” said agency spokesman Michael Dougherty.

The sign-pulling is the latest conflict over the vital network of ditches crisscrossing Minnesota. Two years ago MnDOT hosted a statewide

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Zooming More, Driving Less: When to Ditch Your Car | Personal-finance

Parting with your vehicle would let you ditch monthly car payments and related expenses, like gas, insurance and repairs.

Even a parked car is a source of stress.

Like when you run outside in your pajamas at the sound of the street sweeper coming. Cars left unattended for days might become a target for theft or vandals. They still need routine maintenance, the occasional car wash and a drive every few weeks to circulate the fluids and recharge the battery.

So with the pandemic changing the way we work, commute and shop, there’s probably no better time to see what life feels like without a car.

Here are four reasons to consider a car-free future:

1. You don’t (and won’t) drive much anymore

How many days last week did your car just sit? How many miles have you put on it in the past month?

When the pandemic hit, many companies sent their employees home to work remotely. Total miles driven plunged by 40% nationally in the

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‘Like the car went down a ditch’

As he and his wife sat stunned in their sedan on the side of the inbound Kennedy Expressway Sunday night, Bucktown resident Joe Mariola was grateful to have lost only one tire and rim.

a man riding on the back of a car: Joe Mariola with his flat tire Monday, Sept. 28, 2020 he says was caused by a patchy section of the Kennedy Expressway on Sunday.

© Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Joe Mariola with his flat tire Monday, Sept. 28, 2020 he says was caused by a patchy section of the Kennedy Expressway on Sunday.

The driver of a BMW who pulled up in front of Mariola’s black 2012 Acura TL about five minutes after Mariola’s own flat about 6 p.m., just before a sign for Nagle Avenue in the Union Ridge neighborhood, wasn’t so lucky.

All four tires on the BMW were flat, apparently the result of a rough patch of road left behind following construction, Mariola said.

“This guy was like, what do I do? And I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to have to call a tow

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