Winter road maintenance costs reach $3-4 million over budget

The state has 275 trucks mounted with front and wing plows during winter and deploys a small army of skilled drivers when foul weather rolls in. Photo by Andrew Nemethy
Vermont’s spending on road maintenance for winter weather is between $3 million and $4 million over budget, according to the state’s Agency of Transportation.
Inclement conditions this season, particularly a slew of freezing rain and sleet storms, have racked up unanticipated costs, Todd Law, the agency’s maintenance engineer said.
“It’s extremely troubling for us,” Law said. “We budget on our averages and we never know what winter’s going to bring.”
Some media outlets reported this week that the state’s spending on winter maintenance was about $13 million above its $18.5 million budget.
But Law said this figure is incorrect because the numbers his department previously provided included about $10 million in budgeted equipment costs.
He said snow storms aren’t the driving force behind the state’s increased spending. A series of rain and sleet storms, which can lead to icy road conditions, have ramped up labor demands.
“Our crews have to be out consistently, if not, things ice up on us and that’s when crashes occur and nobody wants that,” Law said.
Last year, the Vermont Agency of Transportation spent a record high on winter maintenance costs, with spending reaching between 4 to 5 million dollars more than agency had allocated.
Increased winter spending often puts off planned road paving and bridge maintenance work, Law said.
“Any time that we have a winter like this one…then we have to do this same game of ‘OK, what are we not going to do,’” Law said. “Because our budget’s our budget.”
Read the story on VTDigger here: Winter road maintenance costs reach $3-4 million over budget.