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Snowplowing efforts affected by state budget woes
Several states are considering cutbacks in snow removal as budget problems continue in governments across the country.

The Wisconsin DOT announced Nov. 20 that highways in that state would not be plowed as frequently as in the past after the state reduced money for road maintenance by 6 percent.

"Legislative action created an $85 million impact in the highway maintenance portion of the state budget,” Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi said. “Coupled with an obligation to provide service on an additional 450-lane-miles of new highway and increased costs for inflation, we've had to make adjustments in highway maintenance service funding levels.”

The state said it would reduce snowplow operator overtime first, and start cutbacks on lower-volume highways. Also, on higher-volume highways, 24-hour-a-day service will be reduced to 18 hours, from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays. On weekends and holidays, snowplowing will occur only eight hours a day during a snowstorm.

Local officials in the Dairy state are concerned about the effect of the DOT’s cuts on their operations.

"I think it's certain it will have a fairly dramatic impact for motorists," Kenneth M. Pesch, Washington County Highway commissioner, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We'll keep the same equipment and manpower on the roads, but we just won't be able to put in the overtime."

Wisconsin isn’t the only state considering such measures. Virginia officials said in a statement that the state’s budget constraints could reduce the level of snow removal in some areas.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has budgeted the same amount for snow removal this year as last. However, actual costs often run above budgets, and if the winter is any harsher than usual, the state has no additional funds to draw on to keep up.

“A harsh winter may drive expenses over $80 million,” VDOT Commissioner Philip Shucet said. For example, The Washington Post reported that the portion of the $80 million set aside for northern Virginia is roughly half what the state actually spent in the area last year.

However, Shucet said, “VDOT will make adjustments to its budget to ensure that major roadways are plowed, treated and kept as clear as possible. But there may be reduced levels of service for subdivision streets and other roads with lower traffic volumes.”

In the case of a major snowfall, the state said it would focus efforts, as always, on primary routes first, cleaning up secondary routes and subdivision streets as it is able.

The weather has already forced at least one cash-strapped state to hold off on snowplowing cutbacks. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported recently that a pre-Thanksgiving snowstorm in Minnesota forced the state’s leaders to reconsider planned cutbacks in their plowing budget.

The policy had called for three eight-hour plowing shifts, which was designed to cause less overtime work than the previous two 12-hour shifts, the newspaper said. However, after the white stuff struck, and outstate legislators accused Gov. Tim Pawlenty of skimping on snow removal to balance the books, the Minnesota Department of Transportation put the brakes on the plan.

The only cutbacks planned are in snow removal from divided highway crossovers, bridge railings, road shoulders and other areas that are not safety-sensitive, Cathy Clark, MnDOT spokeswoman in Baxter, MN, told The Star-Tribune.

"I think things got way out of proportion and politicized," Clark said. "We'll do whatever we have to do to achieve safety."
 

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Yeah, the star-tribune.... more like the Hammer-and-Sickle. Of course they blame it on our governor- he's a republican. It must be his fault! For the wet, heavy, botom-turns-into-ice snowfall we had? They did fine!!:headwall :headwall :headwall
 

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Is the rest of the legislature Democrat ?. It looks like a typical ploy to make the Gov look bad and to try to pick your pockets yet another time
 

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Looks like a good case for privatization. I wouldn't be surprised if you see more work for local contractors in the near future. Best way to reduce direct costs, overhead and overtime.
 

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as far as I have heard, they didn't really cut any real road services, the biggest thing they did was restructure the whole program to pay less overtime. Makes sense to me. The only things they are skimping on are cleanups around bridge pilings and such. Not regular roads.

I think the house and senate are both republican... one of them might not be, but it's REALLY close. Anyway, that's how we got our new conceal & carry law passed. Too much politicking, must be a big election year or something:rolleyes:
 
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