Winter weather hits ADOT with $1.7 million in costs

<i>ADOT courtesy photo</i><br>
Snowplows help keep roads and freeways clear of ice and snow during the winter months, but it doesn’t come cheap. To date, ADOT has spent close to $1.7 million in labor, materials and equipment for snow and ice removal.

<i>ADOT courtesy photo</i><br> Snowplows help keep roads and freeways clear of ice and snow during the winter months, but it doesn’t come cheap. To date, ADOT has spent close to $1.7 million in labor, materials and equipment for snow and ice removal.

PHOENIX, Ariz. - The New Year was ushered in with a winter storm that wreaked havoc on much of Arizona. Cold temperatures and heavy snow tightened their grip on the state, while major highways were closed to keep travelers safe. The storms have subsided, for now, but the cost to battle them has already amounted to well over $1 million for the Arizona Department of Transportation.

So far this season, snow and ice removal costs have amounted to approximately $1.7 million. That includes the $900,000 spent on the storm during the week leading up to the New Year's holiday. Costs include labor, materials, and equipment for snow and ice removal.

By comparison, ADOT spent $6.8 million on winter maintenance operations last fiscal year. That included a $1.4 million tab to battle an intense series of storms last January. ADOT typically spends between $3 million and $7 million per year on winter maintenance operations, which includes snowplowing.

"Our winter safety operations are something we plan for year-round, and while we have a budget for snowplowing, that budget often depends on the intensity of the winter weather," said ADOT Director John Halikowski. "Public safety is ADOT's top priority. Our mission is to respond quickly to clear the roads and provide safe driving conditions for motorists. We do that with very limited state funding. If we need to spend more than our designated budget to keep snow cleared from our state highways, we'll have to assess whether that will have other budget impacts down the road."

Over the last two years, ADOT was forced to address a $100 million budget gap caused by declines in revenues and legislative transfers as part of the state's overall budget deficit challenges. This reduced operating budget required highway operations activities to be prioritized to focus on public safety first.

ADOT continues to repair highways damaged by snow and ice during storms last winter. Beyond the operational costs, the winter storms were responsible for approximately $18 million in damages. That entire amount will be reimbursed by the Federal Highway Administration's Emergency Relief Program as projects are completed. So far, ADOT has performed about $3.8 million worth of repair work.

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