Drivers on I-35 upset over Buck Hill's snow-making schedule

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When Mother Nature fails to provide the snow Buck Hill lovers clamor for, the private business churns out its very own.

The fresh powder is made on Buck Hill’s time, in what seems to be a race around the clock to take advantage of the perfectly frigid temperatures, despite its cozy proximity to Interstate 35.

“It’s my understanding they’ve had an ownership change and before they’ve had basically they wouldn’t make snow during rush hour, and now that’s different,” Lakeville City Councilman Luke Hellier told Fox 9 on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Hellier shared on Twitter that Buck Hill would be making snow for the next 72 hours. The first notice of its kind, Hellier says, since the flurry of complaints he received last month. Hellier himself is also inconvenienced by Buck Hill’s snow processing hours.

“Typically my wife and I, it takes us 45 minutes to get downtown from Lakeville, but on a day when Buck Hill is making snow that could be double,” he said.

Whiteouts, unsafe conditions and extended trips were among the top complaints from commuters to Hellier and the Minnesota Department of Transportation. 

“You’ve already got an influx of cars with folks trying to get to work, but when you have increased snow it’s only going to take that much longer,” Hellier said.  “During rush hour [Buck Hill] had kind of a gentleman’s agreement of sorts that they wouldn’t really make snow when cars are traveling, they’d make snow all night long. I really hope that’s what they go back to.”

MnDOT told Fox 9 they take precautions to treat I-35 ahead of Buck Hill’s plans to make snow, posting signs along I-35 to warn drivers of slick conditions. They, too, have had several conversations with managers over commuters’ added stress.

“They are a private business and they need to do what they need to do in order to succeed,” MnDOT spokesman Kevin Gutknecht said.

“We’re doing what we can to treat the roadway to make it safer for motorists, but ultimately we need motorists to pay attention to those signs,” Gutknecht said. “Slow down and drive according to those conditions.”

Buck Hill declined to comment on their snow-making schedule.

Meanwhile, the Lakeville City Council has reached out to the Burnsville City Council with the hope they can, at the very least, convince Buck Hill to refrain from making snow during morning rush hour.