Snow budgets get busted even in mild winters

A snow burst quickly reduces visibility in Riverdale, Md. on Route 410 around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

Adam Tuss,

WASHINGTON – The dusting of snow, possibly an an inch, the D.C. region will get Wednesday will likely melt as it hits area roadways.

Farther north of D.C., the forecast calls for around 2 inches of snow.

Each time snow and ice is in the forecast, road crews prepare to treat the highways.

Even with a mild winter, road crews are still spending millions of dollars from their snow budgets, mainly because of equipment prep and materials needed.

“The D.C. and Baltimore metro areas have had 10 snow call-outs, including this past Saturday. While only three [one ice and two snow] have amounted to any measurable accumulation, based on the forecasts, crews have been mobilized almost a dozen times,” Maryland State Highway Administration spokesperson Dave Buck writes in an email.

The same is true in Northern Virginia and the District.

“Remember each possible snow event costs money because we deploy crews as a precaution and might throw down salt, so even a mild winter isn’t as cheap as you might think,” says D.C. Department of Transportation spokesperson John Lisle.

Here’s a breakdown of what local road crews have spent from their snow budgets this year:

  • Maryland State Highway Administration: $24 million spent; $36 million total budget
  • Virginia Department of Transportation: About $19 million spent; $55 million total budget (for Northern Virginia)
  • District Department of Transportation and Department of Public Works: About $3.5 million spent; $6.2 million total budget.

The Maryland State Highway Administration, which is responsible for all state roads, said it has spent a large amount of money this year battling larger storms in the western part of the state.

In the event there is money left over, each agency would handle the extra cash differently. In Maryland, SHA would turn the funds back over to the Maryland Department of Transportation. VDOT says it would use the extra money for repairs and maintenance. DDOT says the money would go back into the general fund.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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