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Tough winter plows into summer paving funds

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Unlike last year, West Virginia highways officials will not have any leftover money from their snow removal budget to apply to summer road paving.

Because of a mild winter last year, the Division of Highways ended their snow removal and ice control season with nearly $30 million remaining. State Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox had the funds diverted to summer secondary road paving.  

Unfortunately for those hoping to see more potholes filled this summer, this year's winter season was not so kind.

"This year is vastly different from what we had last SRIC season," said Carrie Bly, spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation.

The department budgeted $58.2 million for this winter's snow removal and ice control season. As of April 3, the department had spent $52.7 million.

Bly said Friday that $52.7 million figure didn't include spending to clear roads last Thursday evening. More snow was expected in higher elevations over the weekend as well.

"It's possible we may end the season in-line or just over budget," Bly said. "We're hoping to be under, but we're not going to have much left, if at all."

According to the National Weather Service, the Kanawha Valley received a total of 11.7 inches of snow last winter. This winter, the valley has received 25.3 inches.

While more than double last winter's snowfall, this winter's amount is still less than the 37.1 inches of snow that fell during the winter months of 2010 and 2011.

Bly said the Kanawha Valley's snowfall was much less than what highways crews had to deal with in other parts of the state.

According to the weather service, Elkins has received 77.5 inches of snow since winter began - up from 30.4 inches the year before - and Beckley has received 72 inches, more than double last year's 35.9 inches.

"In District 8, which has Pocahontas and Tucker counties, it's been nonstop," Bly said. "Those workers haven't had a break all year."

District 8 was one of four of the state's 10 highways districts to go over their snow removal and ice control budget this year.

"They're already about $765,000 over their budget," Bly said. "District 10, which has McDowell, Mercer and Raleigh counties, they're about $1 million over their budget."

By comparison, District 1 - which includes Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Mason and Putnam counties - is more than $2 million under budget. Officials had planned to spend $7.9 million in snow removal activities in the district. They spent $5.6 million.

Since winter began, the state salt trucks have dropped nearly 295,000 tons of salt on state roads. Because a large amount remained from last year, the state remains well stocked with salt.  

Bly said the greatest usage of salt came during the snowstorm that hit Dec. 29-30. Road crews used more than 18,000 tons to treat state roads on Dec. 29 and another 13,000 tons the following day.

With the snow removal season ending, highways crews are transitioning to summer maintenance and construction.

Crews have begun deconstructing and repairing three Interstate 77 bridges in the Sissonville area. They also began nighttime roadwork near the Leon Sullivan Way exit of Interstates 64 and 77 in Charleston last week.

Bly said in the coming weeks crews will again begin road repair and maintenance on the I-64 Eugene A. Carter Memorial Bridge in Charleston.

That work will span several weeks and involve some lane and exit ramp closures.

Bly said the Department of Transportation would provide updates on those closures on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WVDOT.

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.


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