Keeping Michigan roads safe during snowfall; are budgets taking a hit?

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – If you’ve been outside lately, the sting of the air may have caught you off guard.

As for roadways, all week crews have been doing their part to make sure all major streets and highways are safe for drivers but with a very active few weeks, have they been plowing through their budget as well?

You might think that because this week is a holiday and because of the ample amount of snow that county road commissions made a pretty big dent in their budgets, but it’s actually just the opposite.

A few days ago roads were covered in snow and departments including the Ingham County Road Commission were out and about clearing the path for drivers and laying salt to make sure everyone was safe.

“We had about 254 hours of total overtime with our crew and our supervisors and used about 1500 tons of salt for a total expense over the Christmas weekend of about $65,000,” said Bill Conklin; Managing Director of the Ingham County Road Commission.

Conklin says Ingham County budgets $650,000 for salt and $550,000 of overtime for winter maintenance.

“Sounds like a lot of money but it is within budget for the year,” Conklin stated.

Joe Pulver, the Managing Director of the Clinton County Road Commission says his department is right on track too.

“For our roads we typically budget about $900,000 to $1.2 million per year for winter maintenance,” said Pulver.

Pulver says if the large amount of snow fall continues all winter, that’s when there could be a problem.

“When you get events that are week, after week, after week and goes beyond the normal,” Pulver stated.

As far as the state budget goes, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) says “going over” budget is never really a concern.

“Overall maintenance budget for the full year is about $310 million dollars. We expect and hope to be in the neighborhood of around $100 million dollars by the time the winter is over with,” Mark Geib stated; Engineer of Operations Field Services for MDOT.

Each road commission says because the weather is so unpredictable, it’s difficult to pin-point the direction their budget could go but winter is something that’s planned so crews will be out when needed.

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