VDOT snow budget may take a big hit next week

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - So far this year, VDOT crews have been busy with snow removal. Now, with more snow in the forecast for next week, those crews could be busy once again.

Every time it snows, those storms eat away at a snow removal budget that's already increased $2-3 million over the budget from last winter.

The NBC12 Facebook page is already lighting up, after meteorologist Jim Duncan posted morning "wintry weather through the third week of this month, with several snow opportunities."

One viewer commenting, "Bring it!" But just three posts down from that, an emphatic "Booooooo."

Whatever happens next week, VDOT is keeping its eye on the forecast and ready to swing into action if scenes like the past month ensue. "Making sure mother nature doesn't have any tricks up her sleeves," said VDOT spokeswoman Taya Jarman.

This year's snow removal budget for the Richmond areas is set at $9.4 million. Already
$3 million of that money was spent on removing snow last month. Meaning, there is a lot of money left. But, that money can go fast.

"The challenge is we won't know what the winter season is going to bring," added Jarman.

Every time it snows at least a couple of inches, the snow plows hit the ground -- and it costs VDOT about $1 million per day. So we have about six days of snow plowing left before the budget runs out.

"If it's another stormy season like last year, we can still tap into our maintenance funds," added Jarman.

That means the snow plowing will go on. But just like last year, other services later in the year would be affected. "Lets say guard rail repair, grass cutting, picking up animals on the road. You know, general maintenance that are feel gooders but doesn't change the integrity of the road," Jarman said.

So now it's back to keeping an eye on the storm and getting ready for whatever tricks mother nature decides to bring. Even if it means going over budget once again. If that happens, VDOT crews will likely increase the snow removal budget for next winter season.

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