Although the state government remains partially shutdown because of a budget disagreement, the Minnesota DOT is partially back in operation after a judge ruled that permits for oversize loads are part of the state's essential services.
The Department of Transportation called in eight employees Friday to handle the permits. Jeanne Aamodt of the MnDOT told Land Line on Friday afternoon that the staff had already processed more than 300 permits and had more than 100 left to do before they went home for the day.
Truckers who need oversize or overweight permits for Minnesota can call (651) 405-6000 or visit the DOT Web site at http://www.dot.state.mn.us/motorcarrier/oversize/oversize.html. Truckers may also obtain permits in person at the MnDOT office at 1110 Centre Pointe Curve, Mendota Heights, MN.
Aamodt said that applicants with self-routing permits and Web-based permits/route authorizations are again able to access the agency's computer system to have a route approved.
A number of OOIDA members and various media outlets have reported that since the partial government shutdown began July 1, big trucks have been stopped at Minnesota's borders. Among those trucks were some hauling military equipment.
Doug Tice, an editor at the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis, told Land Line on Friday that military equipment including tanks and howitzers had been stalled at the Iowa border en route to Camp Ripley in central Minnesota.
In addition to the military's oversize loads, the government shutdown interrupted the Minnesota mobile home and manufactured home industries, according to Tice. Construction projects were also hit because of the inability to obtain permits to transport heavy equipment to job sites.
Those problems were beginning to be resolved Friday, July 8, after a Ramsey County District Court judge ruled that the issuance of permits for oversize and overweight loads is one of the state's essential services.
About 9,000 of the Minnesota's 50,000 government workers have been locked out of work since July 1 because legislators could not agree on the state's budget. As of Friday, many of those employees had run out of vacation time and will be looking at life without a paycheck if the shutdown doesn't end soon.
State lawmakers were supposed to have come up with a budget by the end of June, but they were unable to agree on several key issues - including school funding and health care for the poor - which is what led to the impasse.
Legislators vowed to come up with a budget solution by Friday, but as of late afternoon, there was no agreement. This is the first time in its history that Minnesota's government has shut down. It is the first state to take such action since Tennessee closed up shop in 2002.
By Coral Beach, staff editor, and Reed Black, staff write