SALT LAKE CITY — Before it even started snowing on Monday, Utah Department of Transportation crews were out on the roads, getting ready for another winter day of snow.
"We got here at 4 (o’clock) this morning," said UDOT plow driver Brian Goins. "It started coming down hard and heavy."
UDOT plows on the Wasatch Front spent much of Monday clearing snow and putting down salt. It’s been the story many days this winter. "It is quite wet and heavy,” Goins said. “Compared to last year, we've had a lot more active winter, a lot more active patterns."
Plow crews are rolling through their budgets pretty quickly in a snowy winter like this. Each statewide storm costs UDOT about a million dollars to clear. This winter is turning into a budget buster. UDOT budgets $24 million for snow removal each winter. So far, it has used $23.9 million. UDOT has a $2 million contingency fund it will use to get through the winter. If that doesn't cover it, it will pull money from low priority maintenance items planned for the spring.
"If it stays like this, we're OK, we can keep up,” said UDOT maintenance supervisor Robert Giolas. “But, once it comes down really heavy, we have a hard time keeping up."
The plowing does not stop, even if the money in the budget for plowing runs out. "I'm done. I want spring,” Giolas said laughing.
They'll likely be at it again on Tuesday, ready to keep the roads clear. "We'll be here all day. We'll be here tonight and be back at it in the morning," Goins said.
Snowplows have used more than 900 tons of Redmond salt and another 160 tons of brine salt. The years when it snows very little enables them to even out the spending.
Contributing: Xoel Cardenas