Winter Conditions Eat Up Road Commission Budget - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Winter Conditions Eat Up Road Commission Budget

INGHAM COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) -- Nearly three feet of snowfall and long lasting, bitter cold temperatures continue to tear into local road repair budget.  

"It's been a real burden, both financially and for our crews, as well," said Bill Conklin, the managing director of Ingham County Road Commission. "[Workers have] already worked about 2/3 of the overtime they normally work, just in the month of January."

Numbers recently released from the Michigan Department of Transportation put a price tag on the season so far. State workers believe the winter budget could hit almost $120 million. That's double what the state spent in 2012.

"We've had a couple of cold winters over the last few years, but I don't remember the frigid temperatures really hanging down in the single digits and even 20, 30, 40 below with wind chill," said Chad Gamble, the City of Lansing's public service director.

When it's continually cold it's tough for workers to keep roads dry and free of ice. Last winter MDOT paid $2.5 million for salt. This winter, they've already spent nearly $6 million, and that's just one fee of many.

As we drop to the single digits again, plow companies begin to mix sand into salt to help with traction. Typically MDOT uses about 10,000 tons of salt. This year they've used nearly 45,000 tons. The salt and sand don't just add up, they tax the trucks that house them. 

"Every time we go into a major plowing operation we bring in mechanics just because it does wear on [equipment] and we have to maintain [equipment] to make sure we can maintain the roads for our customers," Gamble said. 

Keeping roads clean comes at a cost and crews hope Mother Nature lightens up before long. If these weather conditions continue it could sacrifice some summer road projects. 

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