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Snow removal costs may be about $300,000

January 21, 2004|By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

This winter's snowy and icy weather could put Washington County's snow removal expenses at more than $300,000 so far, county Highway Department Director Ted Wolford said Tuesday.

Wolford said that as of the end of December, Washington County had spent at least $164,000 to keep the roads clean and safe.

That amount does not include all the costs related to snow removal for November and December or any bills since Jan. 1, Wolford said.

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He said the total cost to the county may be $300,000 or more when the additional expenses are tallied.

The county has $564,000 budgeted for the current fiscal year for snow removal.

Wolford said icy conditions are usually more costly, because the ice tends to freeze, thaw and then refreeze, forcing crews to be out on the roads more often.

Working weekends and holidays also increases expenses for the county, he said.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said during Tuesday's commissioners meeting that he's received some phone calls from people questioning why road crews were out during the weekend's storm, which brought some snow and ice to the county.

"Some people think it's a waste," Snook said.

"I do too," Commissioner John C. Munson said.

Munson said the salt used to melt ice stops working if the temperature drops to a certain level.

Wolford said by phone that the county uses a mixture of salt and stone on the roads in wintry conditions.

The salt will stop working if the temperature drops below 20 degrees, but heat from cars driving over it re-activates the chemicals, and the salt starts to work again, Wolford said.

He said the county received reports of several accidents over the weekend because of the road conditions.

"There was ice all over," Wolford said.

Director of Emergency Services Joe Kroboth said during the meeting that the 911 Communications Center received about 30 to 40 calls from residents concerned about roads.

Wolford said he hopes that the county won't go over its budget for snow removal costs, but there are no guarantees.

"I hope so," Wolford said. "Other than that, I don't know. February can be a nasty month."

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