13News Now Investigation: The cost of digging out

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by Nick Ochsner, 13News now

WVEC.com

Posted on January 30, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 6 at 5:36 PM

NORFOLK -- Crews across Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina spent Thursday digging out; a three-day exercise in salting, sanding and scraping that road and maintenance crews started a week earlier.

While the work to keep the roads safe and clear is necessary, it also comes with a hefty price tag.

For instance, the Virginia Department of Transportation pays an average price of $79 per ton of salt. VDOT crews in Hampton Roads used 12,000 tons of salt to battle the snow and ice that came with last week's storm alone. That adds up to roughly $948,000.

It's too early to know the cost of clearing Tuesday's snow and VDOT doesn't have complete figures from last week's storm.

A spokeswoman for North Carolina Department of Transportation said it spent $190,102 on snow removal in Pasquotank, Camden, Gates, Dare and Currituck counties so far this fiscal year, including last week's storm.

Officials with the City of Hampton estimate last week's storm cost more than $120,000 and the City of Norfolk estimates this week's storm will add up to between $400,000 and $500,000 including all city departments responding to the storm.

The back to back storms meant crews had little time to re-stock their supplies of salt and sand. It also meant twice the cost.

Steve Abbott, a spokesman for NCDOT, said the department looks at how much was spent on snow removal in previous years when deciding how much to allocate for the next fiscal year.

This year's budget is $30 million. More than half of that--$17 million--had been spent statewide by the time Tuesday's storm rolled in.

But Abbott said maxing out the year's snow removal budget is not a reason to stop treating and plowing the roads after a major winter storm.

"Opening the roads is our first priority so we will spend whatever it takes to keep the roads clear," he said.

Phillip Davenport, who runs the public works department in Virginia Beach, agreed.

"Money is not going to be an issue with this storm or any storm," Davenport said Thursday.
 

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