More snow means more work for highway departments - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

More snow means more work for highway departments


Wednesday's weather just adds to the snow we've seen so far this year, as the action continues for what's been an active winter. Highway department officials say that's keeping their crews on their toes.

 It has been a wild winter in Central Wisconsin. From freezing temperatures, to freezing rain, and snow. It seems like we've seen it all. Highway department officials say that has them working harder.

"We're spending a little more money than we did at this time last year," Marathon County Highway Department Operations Manager Dan Raczkowski said.           

As our Newsline 9 meteorologists point out, there's a reason for that.

"We've had over a foot additional snow. Thirteen inches more snow this winter than last year at this point in time," Newsline 9 Meteorologist Rob Duns said.

For road crews, more snow means more salt is needed to keep roads safe. They say the cooler temperatures add to the trouble.

 "It takes a little more salt to melt the snow, the more frost that's on the roads is harder on our equipment also," Raczkowski told Newsline 9.

Highway officials say all of that adds up.

"It does cost us more in overtime, equipment and materials to remove the snow," Raczkowski said.

A chart comparing this year's salt usage in Marathon County to last year really shows the difference. To date, crews have used close to 500 more tons of salt on state roads. That includes highways like I-29.

But county roads remain fairly steady compared to last year.

Marathon County highway managers say that extra time removing snow means taking crews away from other jobs.

"Crack sealing roads, cutting brush, trimming back trees. Recently, we haven't been doing as much because we've been busy with snow removal," Raczkowski said.

While highway leaders say the crazy winter weather hasn't broken the budget. But they say they're looking ahead.

"Last year in March, it never snowed at all. We came out of winter with a lot of salt in the sheds and we definitely saved money. This year, we'll see what happens," Raczkowski said.

Highway leaders say a lot of their budget is at the mercy of Mother Nature. They say the weather this March will really determine where they will stand in the long run.

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