The first official day of winter hasn’t even arrived, but the Iowa Department of Transportation has already spent a lot of money on labor and materials fighting the season’s impact on highways and interstates. Dennis Burkheimer, head of the DOT’s winter operations, says it’s been an unusual December.
"The freezing rain has been especially tough on us," Burkheimer says, "we’ve used about 100,000 tons of salt and that’s about half of what we typically use in an entire winter season." It’s still too early to place a price tag on the winter storms’ impact, but Burkheimer says DOT crews in every part of the state have been busy.
Most of the storms have been state-wide events, "Which adds another burden to us," Burkheimer says, "because we’ve got a lot of operators and equipment that have been working around the clock for several weeks now. We’d certainly like to see a couple week rest in here."
Iowa receives a good chunk of it’s road salt from salt mines in Kansas. A recent storm there put a dent in the salt stockpiles here in Iowa. Burkheimer says snow and ice knocked out power to Kansas salt vendors, but they are now back in business and providing material to Iowa.