DOT nears snow plowing record

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The snowy winter is costing the Minnesota Department of Transportation a lot of money for plowing operations.

DOT state maintenance engineer Steve Lund said spending so far exceeds the winter of 2008-09.

“I’m expecting we will surpass our ’09 record year,” Lund said.

Through mid-February the DOT had spent nearly $60 million on snow plowing operations. Two years ago, the DOT had spent about $52 million by that point, on its way to a winter total of over $67 million.

This year is almost certain to top that, and may have already done so. That’s because the latest number does not include the big February 20-21 snowstorm. Snow fell across a large part of Minnesota during that event, with some locations measuring nearly 20 inches.

The total snow plowing bill for an event like that can easily be $5 to $10 million dollars, Lund said. The department also has all of March yet to get through. Forecasters say another major storm is likely this week.

But there will be no cutbacks in snow plowing operations because of budget considerations.

“Snow and ice is such a significant priority for us that it gets first service,” Lund said.

However, the high winter bill could affect some road work planned for next summer. He said no decisions have been made yet, but some DOT districts could reduce road patching operations or take other steps to offset their high winter costs.

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