Busy Winter Saps Road Maintenance Budgets

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County road commissions spent more than they expected this winter.

Snowplows and salt trucks were common sights this winter – after a few relatively mild seasons, the snow and ice were back with vengeance. Vernon County Highway Commissioner Phil Hewitt says his department spent $60,000 more than usual on overtime and operation costs. He says his crew worked 11 weekends from January to March to move snow and salt roads, which he says was expensive.

“A little freezing rain or an inch of wet snow at the right time when you have a high volume of traffic- that will cost the county just as much as a six-inch white fluffy snow.”

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The winter weather hit some areas of the state even harder. The Bayfield County Highway department has already spent 94 percent of its 2013 winter maintenance budget, with next November and December still ahead.

Phil Hewitt says the Vernon County Highway Department may have to make up for the winter maintenance costs somewhere else, possibly by scaling back on summer road repairs.

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