Construction projects may be extended if state shuts down - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Construction projects may be extended if state shuts down

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Minnesotans often joke there are two seasons in the state: winter and road construction. But that idea could all change, if the state government shuts down, leaving hundreds of MnDot workers and contractors out of work for the summer.

For many of the workers, they spend the winter on unemployment anxiously waiting for the summer months to come, so they can work. With a looming shutdown folks we spoke with are worried how they'll make ends meet especially if they can't go on unemployment.

"It's going to look like a war zone, it's going to look basically how it does now," said MnDot Inspector, Joel Risser.

That's how Risser described the scene at construction zones around the state, if projects are halted.

"It's frustrating, it's supposed to be a secure job," recalled Risser.

A position providing benefits, a pension and a consistent paycheck, but soon, that may not be the case.

"While my wife does work, but it's kind of scary. You know as far as, are we going to be able to make our mortgage payment. It's a lot of questions like that," stated Risser.

While Joe Risser and his family may be able to live off one income for a short time, something will have to give.

"A lot of co-workers are talking about picking up side work, they're looking for odd jobs that people might have for them, just to put food on the table," explained Risser.

Workers like Lonny Schreiber live off one income.

"This is my work season, I don't do anything during the winter. Gotta collect unemployment," said Schreiber.

The reality though, is that piles of dirt, orange cones and road closure signs may sit untouched for months.

"Everybody is going to be frustrated driving through a construction project and not seeing anything being done for however long the shut down or the lay offs last," said Local 868 AFSCME President, Paul Bissen.

MnDot officials are reminding drivers that impatience doesn't need to lead to road rage.

"Pay attention, drive safely. We won't have the flagger out there saying stop and go, because the equipment won't be working," said a MnDot spokesperson.

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