State DOTs Look Forward to Spring after Long Winter

AASHTO Journal, 4 April 2014

State transportation department officials across the country are preparing for the upcoming construction season, waving goodbye to the long and hard winter that wreaked havoc on both transportation infrastructure and state DOT budgets.

The Kansas Department of Transportation this week announced that this winter is the most costly it has experienced since 2008. KDOT reports spending about $22 million on materials, equipment, and labor to keep the state’s highways safe and open to travelers, compared to the $23.7 million spent in 2008. KDOT officials say the “broad scope of this year’s storms, along with frigid temperatures” made this a more expensive winter season than in years past.

“I want to thank our crews for their dedication and hard work to keep Kansas roads open in some very difficult conditions,” said KDOT Secretary Mike King in a statement. “Winter maintenance takes a substantial amount of effort and money, but the cost to the state would be much greater if the crews didn’t maintain the system as well as they did.”

Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle announced this week almost $61 million for cities, counties, and villages across the state to help restore road maintenance budgets depleted by the long winter. The funding is part of $100 million for special winter road maintenance from a supplemental appropriations bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder in mid-March.

“These funds are badly needed by counties, cities, and villages to compensate for the extraordinarily high costs of plowing, salting, and filling potholes this past winter,” Steudle said in a statement. “We are all extremely appreciative of the governor’s and Legislature’s understanding of the toll this brutal winter has taken on road budgets.”

Also this week, the Ohio Department of Transportation released a one minute video to highlight the severity of last winter and the department’s efforts to keep drivers moving. The video includes many ODOT winter facts, including how much salt was used to treat roads, how many hours were¬†worked by department employees to clear those roads, how much money was spent doing that work, and how many miles were driven by ODOT employees to keep roads safe.

“Ohioans are certainly ready for this winter to end. But imagine being one of the 3,000 men and women of the Ohio Department of Transportation who roll out of bed at all hours of the day and night in some of the most dangerous conditions to make sure our roadways are safe and passable,” according to a statement from ODOT accompanying the video’s release. “The end of winter can’t come soon enough for all of us.”

Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities also released a video on winter weather, focusing on the cleanup of multiple avalanches that crossed the Richardson Highway in the Thompson Pass region in January. ADOT&PF had to clear about 200,000 cubic yards of snow, ice, and debris, all made more difficult by flooding in the area that reached 2,500 feet in length. That video can be found here.

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