Local News

Storm-Related Costs May Put Other Road Projects On Hold

Posted February 27, 2003 4:13 a.m. EST

— This winter is not over yet, and already the state has shelled out almost twice as much as it usually spends on clearing roads. Getting rid of all that snow and ice will force the state to put off a wide variety of road maintenance projects.

This winter has been rough on roads and the budget in Wake County.

"We've used over 3,000 tons of salt this year and probably in the neighborhood of about 500 tons of sand in with that, we've used over 3,000 gallons of calcium chloride so far," said DOT engineer Jerry Linder.

Officials say at $40 a ton, Wake County has spent $120,000 this winter just on salt. Plus, officials say storm-related costs are piling up statewide.

Chief operations engineer Don Goins said so far, the state has spent $25 million. He said shelling out the money will cut back on money available for projects like resurfacing, some bridge work and roadside drainage improvements. He stresses that no projects that impact driver safety will be cut back.

With a budget squeezed by the economy and the weather, the DOT has to be more efficient. One idea is to replace some use of ice busting calcium chloride with a less-expensive water and salt mixture.

"What we're looking at is trying to get our systems where we produce that brine ourselves and make that locally. It comes very, pretty cheap. We can produce that for about 5 cents a gallon," Goins said.

The calcium chloride the state uses now costs 78 cents a gallon. All of the costs quoted in this story include the December ice storm through Thursday's winter weather. Those costs do not include debris removal which is paid by federal funds.