Winter Weather Takes Toll On Highway Budgets

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Barely a day has gone by this winter in the town of Rutland when the plows haven't been on the road.

Whether it was icing, snowing, melting or blowing, crews have been working extra and Highway Superintendent Claude Phelps says it's taking a big chunk out of his budget.

"We're way up because we're fighting these storms back to back all the time. Many people don't realize it could be clear where you live and whiteout conditions a quarter mile down the road. That forces us to keep a truck on the road at all times," said Phelps.

Between fuel for the plows, overtime for the drivers and materials, costs rise with each storm.

In Rutland, the total miles driven by the plows compared to last year at this time is up about 15 percent.

When compared to two years ago, total miles are up nearly 60 percent.

Something else highway departments have to worry about is salt. 

The town of Housfield has used more than half of its supply already.

"We've ordered 1,100 ton of salt and we've got about 300 left," said Bruce Alcombreck, town of Hounsfield highway superintendent.

But there is good news.

Despite how much extra work is being done to keep the roads clean, both highway superintendents say their budgets are set high enough, just in case we get a taste, like we are this year, of a good old fashioned north country winter.
 

Sunday, April 20, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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