SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Department of Transportation has already surpassed its $24.1 million budget for the year, but it will continue to plow through the snow in the mountains this weekend.
"We’re no stranger to winter weather here in Utah, so it’s not uncommon for us to get this type of snowfall in a year. … We’re always ready for it when it happens," said John Gleason, UDOT spokesman.
Spring showers in the valley often bring UDOT crews to the mountains to clear snow. Gleason said as the ground temperatures rise the snow won't accumulate as much, but in the past the agency has plowed snow storms in the mountains through May.
He said UDOT had a very active winter and already spent $26.4 million this year, already dipping into contingency funds. The money spent on snow removal will likely stall spring projects like shoulder work and replacing culverts.
But it will not affect pot hole repairs, which Gleason says is critical to safety because they can cause crashes.
"Pot hole repair is something that we will always be on top of," Gleason said.
Gleason said increased storms in central and southern Utah made a large difference in snow removal costs this year. Snowstorms in the northern part of the state have been consistent.
Lorn Vogt, deputy director for the Salt Lake Public Services Department, said her office surpassed its budget for road salt this year, spending $425,000 with a $374,000 budget. The department shifted resources so it did not have to request more funds for salt, equipment repairs or replacing snow plow blades.
"We would say this is normal for how it used to be in Utah. … We haven’t seen a year like this for about five years or so, but we certainly plan for them," Vogt said.
She said the Public Services Department is in charge of plowing all the city owned streets, which it hopes to carry out in the first 36 hours after a storm. The department has 45 snow plows and crews that rotate in 12-hour shifts.
We’re no stranger to winter weather here in Utah, so it’s not uncommon for us to get this type of snowfall in a year. … We’re always ready for it when it happens.
–John Gleason, UDOT spokesman.
This year during the largest snow storm, February 5-7, the Salt Lake Streets Division used 4,300 tons of salt and drove more than 16,000 miles to plow over 20 inches of snow in the valley and 36 inches in higher elevation areas.
Although the official snow season for Salt Lake City has ended, Vogt says plow drivers are still ready to help clear streets if needed.
Gleason said UDOT is also ready to plow snow on the streets.
"It’s one of the most important things we do as a department to make sure that our roads are maintained and plowed," Gleason said.
He said as long as it snows, UDOT men and women will be plowing roads making sure people can get where they need to go safely. The department has 550 snowplows throughout the state and plans to spend about $1 million on each state-wide storm.
Gleason said surpassing the budget is not uncommon — the money spent this winter is similar to two years ago. However, last winter UDOT was under its budget for snow removal.