UDOT exceeds annual plow budget, will borrow from non-essential paving to get by

Feb 27, 2023, 5:05 PM | Updated: 6:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITYThe tremendous snowfall this winter is making a dent in the drought, but many Utahns are tired of driving in it.  

The repeated storms are also taking a toll on the state plow budget. Each year, the Utah Department of Transportation heads into the winter expecting a couple dozen storms. It costs about $1 million to clear a statewide snowstorm, and UDOT has already busted the annual budget for snow removal.

“It’s been a very active winter, and with all of the storms that we’ve had, it’s been really critical that our plows are out there,” said John Gleason, director of communications for UDOT.

It’s been four years since UDOT last exceeded its snowplow budget. They were almost expecting it this year, but not necessarily this early. 

“You look at all of the storms that are lining up, even just this week — we have Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, where we’re expecting more snowfall,” Gleason said. “So, that’s going to add to the snow removal budget, but it’s something that we’re aware of and planning ahead on.“

UDOT budgets $24.1 million for its annual snow removal budget. So far, it has spent $25.8 million this season, and there are still two months of potential plowing left.

“Which really underscores the type of winter that we’ve had. It’s been storm after storm, and it’s required us to be out there quite a bit this winter,” Gleason said. 

Last year, UDOT had $3 million left over at the end of the season that it rolled into maintenance projects. This year, UDOT will have to put off non-essential, non-emergency paving projects to balance its budget, until its new budget begins in July.

“We’re fortunate that we can put some of the less critical maintenance activities on the back burner,” Gleason said. “We do have other funds in the maintenance division that we can put towards plowing the roads and that’s always going to come first.“

So far, UDOT plow drivers have driven nearly 2,240,000 miles and worked 120,000 hours to keep our roads clear this winter. They’ve also put down more than 264,000 tons of salt.

“That’s a safety consideration. It’s one of our top priorities. So we will be out there. As long as it’s snowing, our crews will be out there.”

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UDOT exceeds annual plow budget, will borrow from non-essential paving to get by