Snow and ice removal was costly to the state, but spending did not set a record

Herald-Leader Frankfort BureauApril 21, 2014 

A snowplow cleared North Limestone in Lexington on March 3, 2014.

PHOTO BY PABLO ALCALA | STAFF — Lexington Herald-Leader Buy Photo

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spent more than $68 million on snow and ice removal this past winter — about 1.5 times more than in a typical winter in the state.

"This was an extraordinary year — requiring extraordinary measures — in terms of the amount of salt used on state roadways and the challenges the cabinet faced as the winter pressed on," Nancy Albright, deputy state highway engineer for project delivery and preservation, said Monday in a release.

The amount of money used to combat snow and ice will result in less money to do some spring maintenance on state roads, Albright said.

Maintenance problems that could create hazards on roads if not repaired — such as replacing guardrails, repairing potholes and striping — will be the top priorities, she said.

Maintenance projects, including tree trimming, pavement patching, panel sign repairs and some drainage structure repair, might be deferred until money becomes available.

During the 31 snow and ice events this season, the state's almost 2,000 road-maintenance employees worked to keep more than 60,000 lane miles of roads open, the cabinet reported.

The cabinet's vehicle and equipment fleet includes 1,065 snowplows. In addition, the cabinet can call on 382 contracted snowplow trucks to help,

To keep roads clear, the state spread more than 438,000 tons of salt — compared to 194,000 tons during the previous winter, which was mild. The state used up its reserve salt pile at the Mega Cavern in Louisville

On average, crews spread between 200,000 and 250,000 tons of salt in a year and spend between $40 million and $45 million. The previous winter's snow and ice removal costs were about $42.4 million.

The most expensive winter was 2010-2011, when $74 million was spent on snow and ice removal and 450,000 tons of salt were used.

Jack Brammer: (859) 231-1302. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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