VDOT facing more budget cuts due to snow

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -- VDOT is facing a tough budget problem: they have blown through their budget allotted for snow removal this year. That means cuts are going to have to be made somewhere, but it not known where yet.

One thing VDOT says will not happen is any cut to road/safety issues, like snow removal or pot hole repair.

The snow piles keep on growing, an unrelenting force of nature that VDOT can not control. "We didn't expect a winter like this. This is unlike any we've seen before," says VDOT spokesman Jeff Caldwell.

In fact, it's one winter that's proving to be a big mess for it's budget. VDOT has blown through it's allotted $79 million for snow removal, along with another $25 million in emergency funds.

Now, VDOT is taking money from the $1.6 billion maintenance fund for snow removal and that may have some consequences down the line.

"Things like cutting grass, patching fences or delaying the purchase of new traffic camera," says Caldwell, on the possible cuts that could be made. These are cuts VDOT has made in the past when facing a budget crunch. Nothing is set in stone just yet. That's because VDOT does not know how much all this snow will put them in the red.

"For an average storm, if it affects us statewide and we have to mobilize, it costs us about $10 million a day," says Caldwell.

That means since January 30th, crews have been plowing roads for snow removal throughout the state and it is estimated to cost about $100 million and counting. But, again, those exact figures are not known yet.

The state has applied for help from the federal government, but just how much dough VDOT will get, is up in the air.

"We can't wait to see what we get from the federal government. We can't change our operations," says Caldwell.

Another issue is keeping up with the plows. "They are working 24 hours a day. We'll switch out drivers but it's the same truck," says Caldwell.

While some plows are getting a little break now, it's a break that may not last long. With more snow in the forecast, crews are working out of the maintenance budget to keep these plows on the road, as the budget woes keep piling up.

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