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State and local governments confident with remaining snow removal budgets

(Snowplows parked near UDOT Headquarters. Credit: Paul Nelson)

WASATCH FRONT – The cleanup continues all across the state after yesterday’s storm dumped a massive amount of snow over Utah’s roads.  How are local and state governments looking when it comes to their snow removal budgets, especially since more storms are on the horizon?

Officials with UDOT say many people might believe that their job to clear the roads finishes right after the snow falls.  However, Spokesman John Gleason says their crews stay very busy for a while after the storm passes.

“We’re going to be cleaning up the snow on the shoulders and the concrete barriers for the next day, or two,” he says.

Gleason says it costs UDOT roughly a million dollars, per storm, to clear all of the freeways and state roads across Utah.  They set aside $24.4 million for snow removal this season and they’ve spent $15.8, not including yesterday’s storm.  In all, Gleason estimates they’ve spent just under $17 million.

“That’s about the average that we have over the last four to five years, but, it’s quite a bit less than we [spent] last year,” he says.

Salt Lake County Public Works is sitting very pretty, for now, when it comes to their snow removal budgets.  However, Director Kevyn Smeltzer says that’s mainly because their budget was just renewed a month ago.  He says it’s going to be a harder job to estimate what they’ll need for November and December.

Smeltzer says, “If we have an under-expense somewhere else, we can ask if we can move that money around.”

Salt Lake County has roughly 700 miles of road they have to clear during any particular storm.  They provide all the snow removal for nine separate municipalities.  Smeltzer says there’s one easy way for residents to help them save money on these expenses… don’t park on the street.  He says drivers have an especially tricky time clearing out smaller roads when this happens.

“In a neighborhood street with a car on both sides, there is barely enough room for the truck to get through.  So, instead of cruising through the neighborhood at ten miles an hour, he’s crawling through there at a couple miles an hour.  It takes a lot longer to get things done,” he says.


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