“Last year we had to push off some of the noncritical, non-safety related projects, because we were so focused on plowing the roads and filling those potholes, because it was such an extreme winter,” said UDOT spokesperson John Gleason.
He told ABC4 on Tuesday that UDOT typically spends $27 million each year on snow removal.
But this year, the relatively mild conditions have Utah spending less. As of the end of January, UDOT has spent only about $11 million, whereas the recent 5-year average for this time of the year is about $13 million.
So, where does that leftover money go? To other road projects.
“If we don’t use all of the money allocated to snow removal, that money gets rolled over into other maintenance activities — paving projects, putting in drainage or maintaining existing drainage systems,” Gleason said.
He added that snow removal costs can quickly add up. A typical statewide snowstorm costs roughly $1 million to clean up, with a fleet of more than 500 plows out on the roads.
“A storm or two here or there can really change the outlook, and there’s a lot of winter left,” Gleason said.
During stretches of mild weather, the plow drivers are the same people filling potholes and doing paving projects.
“There’s never really a dull moment in their jobs on days when they’re not out plowing,” Gleason said.