It’s still early in the winter weather season, but it’s already been a costly one in Iowa. Aside from the power outages, Department of Transportation crews have put in some long hours battling snow and ice on roads.
DOT winter operations manager Dennis Burkheimer says he not sure yet how much his agency has spent, but knows it’s a lot. He says the typical annual budget for snow and ice operations in Iowa is around 34 million dollars. The DOT buys salt shipped in from Kansas and Louisiana, but it’s the cost of equipment repairs, manpower and overtime hours that Burkheimer is especially concerned about.
The Iowa DOT has around 1,200 operators, mechanics and supervisors that are involved in keeping the state’s roads clear in the winter. The DOT has already dumped more than 100-thousand tons of salt on Iowa roads to help remove ice. Burkheimer says the roads take quite a beating – which leads to costly pothole repairs in the fall.
"The freeze-thaw cycles do help contribute to potholes and expansion and contraction of the pavement surface – so those are issues we continue to keep an eye on," Burkheimer says, "but I guess our biggest concern is making sure the roads are safe as possible for the traveling public."