Road crews had been called upon approximately 30 times this winter in the Washington region. Communities in Maryland, DC, and Virginia are anxious for the tulips and daffodils to break through the soil — a sure sign of spring.
The Maryland’s State Highway Administration (SHA) snow budget was only $46 million. So far the state has blown through $123 million. SHA’s Dave Buck said that 2,400 trucks had been deployed to combat the freezing rain and snow storms of the season.
The high snow budget concerns have been compounded by the scarcity of salt for the roads. SHA used a mixture of molasses and salt brine. Frederick County mixed the salt with a small stone chip for added traction.
To treat the roads prior to the storm a mixture of magnesium chloride and a corn byproduct, very similar to corn syrup was sprayed. This treatment made the salt “stick” to the roadway instead of bouncing off. These products are less corrosive and decreased the amount of salt.
The District reported in February that the last major snow storm put its $2.5 million budget up to $6.2 million. Department of Public Works spokeswoman Linda Grant said that the snowfall of the 2013-2014 winter is less than the record-breaking 2009-2010 season but the number of storms has been greater. Crews have mobilized 25 times so far this year, compared to 20 times in 2009-2010.
Virginia highway officials rolled out about 4,000 snowplows and salt trucks to the Northern Virginia roads. The snow removal tab of $157 million exceeds the budget by more than $100 million. Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) reported that the spending was far greater than what was spent in Northern Virginia for “Snowmageddon” in 2010.
There is a light at the end of this snow tunnel. March 9th will bring the big event: daylight savings time. Communities will spring ahead to one more hour of sunshine and gear up to retire the snowplows for the season.