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High costs of winter road treatment will impact future road maintenance

The extreme winter weather this season has caused road treatment and preparation costs to skyrocket for several Missouri agencies.

“Mid-Missouri has been hit pretty hard,” said MoDOT maintenance liaison Todd Miller. “We’ve had to re-prioritize replenishment orders to make sure we have plenty of salt on hand, especially for I-70 in the central part of Missouri.”

Boone County Roads and Bridge has spent a total of $753,270 in labor, material and equipment costs in just the first two months of 2019. In 2018, the department spent $514,463 total.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is also experiencing higher-than-average costs this winter. Miller said this is a problem for the department because the same budget it uses for winter snow removal and road treatment is the same budget it uses for summer road maintenance.

“(It) doesn’t give us enough funds, or as much funds as we would have had, to plan our pavement repairs and sealing in the summertime,” he said.

That means that planned pavement projects, including pothole repair, will have to go by the wayside because of the expensive snow and ice removal costs.

From the beginning of MoDOT’s fiscal year in July until January 31, the department has spent $28 million in costs related to winter road treatment.

The five-year average for MoDoT’s operation spending is $45 million. In FY 2018, MoDoT spent $43 million; in FY2017, $29 million; and in 2016, $26 million.

Becky Allmeroth, the Chief Safety and Operations Officer of MoDOT, said she expects the costs this year to meet and possibly exceed last year’s total of $43 million.

Columbia Public Works is also feeling a financial strain. Although Public Works has only spent $200,355.32 this fiscal year to date, Barry Dalton, the community relations specialist, said the costs are expected to at least meet the total winter budget of $532,773.

Dalton said that, as of now, their departments plan to buy salt for fiscal year 2020 with their 2019 budgets, which will put them at or over budget.

​​​​​”It’s been a hard winter,” said Dalton.

Miller said MoDOT will buy more salt to replenish its supply on July 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.

“The more we use of salt in the winter time, the more we are going to have to order,” he said. ” So come July 1, which is the new state fiscal year is, it will definitely be larger than last year.”

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