Share
May 4, 2015 11:00 AM, EDT

Severe Winter Cost 23 States More Than $1 Billion to Keep Roads Open and Safe, AASHTO Survey Finds

Missouri Department of Transportation

Twenty-three states spent a total of more than $1.1 billion between October and April to pre-treat, plow or spread chemicals and other materials on roads to keep them open and safe this past season, according to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The results were released this week in AASHTO’s first of its kind “Winter Maintenance Operations Survey.”

“The responsibilities of state departments of transportation go far beyond planning, designing, constructing and maintaining roadways and bridges,” AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright said in a statement.

“When we think about funding transportation, we need to consider the total amount needed to keep people and goods moving throughout the entire year,” he said.

Massachusetts reported that of the 31 winter storms it coped with, two were among the worst on record.

In the Boston area, 110.6 inches of snow fell; the Worcester area received 119.7 inches; and the state recorded 43 consecutive days of temperatures below 40 degrees, AASHTO said in a survey released May. 4.

As of March 21, the state’s transportation department had spent $153.7 million on winter operations with $98 million of that spent to hire equipment and personnel, the report said.

The Maryland State Highway Administration reported spending $108 million for winter operations, 32% of its annual maintenance budget. Connecticut spent $45 million, 33% of its annual maintenance budget; and New Hampshire spent $46 million, or 55% of its annual maintenance budget, the AASHTO report said.

Several Southern states were hit by ice storms, the report said.

The Winter Maintenance Operations survey found that state employees and contractors logged 8 million work hours and used more than 24,000 state- and private contractor-owned snow plows and trucks. States also reported using approximately 6 million tons of salt.

State officials told AASHTO that as a result of the harsh winter, they have been left with “leaner” road budgets and more potholes to repair.

The survey found that Indiana, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Washington state and Wyoming reported a mild winter and Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan and Nebraska said their winters were average.

Eleven states — Arkansas, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont — said the winter was “difficult to severe.”