MDOT says last few storms have hit maintenance budget hard

MID-MICHIGAN (WJRT) (2/11/2019) - Winter is barely half over and the Michigan Department of Transportation says its budget for clearing snow is quickly being depleted by significant snowstorms.

"From a budgetary standpoint, this winter we have actually been slightly below our average until the last couple of weeks here," said Gregg Brunner, MDOT's assistant regional engineer for operations.

Having crews out 24 hours a day for multiple days over the last couple of weeks has been taking its toll on the budget for MDOT.

"Based on the 2 two weeks of weather we have had here, we've seen quite the jump in our expenditures to date," says Brunner. "In the state of Michigan it averages out to be just under $100 million a year we spend on winter maintenance."

To determine the maintenance budget for each year, MDOT looks at the past five years, evaluating how much snow was accumulated and how much money was spent.

"We incorporate those fluctuation that we see, we keep an additional 30 percent contingency in case there is an overrun or a worse winter than we have seen in the last five years," Brunner said.

If that money runs out, MDOT says that when other things have to be cut.

"Regardless of the winter or the cost associated with it, we're going to maintain a consistent level of service out there. So we should continue to see the amount of clear roads that we usually do," Brunner said. "Where the impacts come from is after winter, if there are significant overruns, that may impact some of our summer maintenance that we do."

If those budget cuts were necessary, MDOT says they would not cut into any other large constructions projects already planned for the summer of 2019.