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Snowstorms can be a fairly frequent occurrence in Iowa. These storms bring out emergency responders, panicked grocery store shoppers, and the familiar orange trucks clearing Iowa’s roads. But just how much does a snowstorm cost the state?

As part of their presentation to the House Transportation Committee, the Department of Transportation took a look at the impact of the winter storm that hit Iowa just a couple of months ago around Christmas. That storm impacted DOT operations for nine days and also impacted the Department’s budget.

During the storm, DOT staff logged almost 61,000 winter function hours. This includes plowing snow, snow blowing operations, making the salt brine laid down on roads before the storm, and post-storm truck clean-up and maintenance. Eighty-two of the Department’s employees were out working every day from December 21 to December 29. The storm’s total cost for labor came to $2.6 million.

The costs of a storm aren’t limited to personnel. There are equipment costs as well. These totaled $1.2 million for the Christmas storm. And then there are the materials used. The dollars spend on sand, salt, brine and other items used to prepare and clean up the storm came to an additional $1.6 million. Totaled up, the DOT spent $5.2 million during those nine days to keep Iowa’s roads open and safe for travel.

Over five million dollars for one storm seems like a lot, but this is Iowa and Iowans know winter can be unpredictable. That is why the Department of Transportation’s budget always includes funding for winter operations. Through Valentine’s Day, the Department has, so far, spent a total of $25 million on winter operations.

Author: Jon Dunwell


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