Snow plowing costs at record pace

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The orange colored state snow plow trucks have been out in force this winter and that’s adding up to a big bill for clearing roads.

Minnesota Department of Transportation officials say the heavy snow already has pushed road-clearing costs to a record pace.

“Through January 18th we’ve actually spent $48 million,” said Steven Lund, the DOT’s state maintenance engineer.

That’s $3 million ahead of the same date in 2009, which so far is the DOT’s most expensive snow plowing year. Crews are putting in long hours.

“It has been a tough winter on them,” Lund said. “There have been some stretches where they’ve been out there on a daily basis for weeks on end.”

So far, the DOT’s supply of salt has held up well. Lund said there’s no concern that the department will run out before winter ends.

He says one positive factor is that snow plows receive more help from the sun in February than in past months. As the sun moves higher into the sky the strength of its heating power increases, to the point where it can melt significant amounts of snow on roadways even if the air temperature is below freezing.