MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s Department of Transportation is hoping the warmer weather over the next couple of weeks marks the end of winter weather.
MnDOT covers 12,000 miles of highway roads across the state and if no more harsh winter weather strikes, spokesperson Kevin Gutknecht says the state is on track to save money from the snow removal budget.
This winter is a big contrast to last year’s unusually harsh winter that forced MnDOT to blow past its budget by tens of millions of dollars.
“Anytime we put the key in the ignition and start a truck, we start to accrue cost,” Gutknecht said.
Minnesota drivers are also hoping there will now be an end to the winter weather that makes driving and washing the car more difficult.
“I’m kind of picky when it comes to my car, I don’t like streaks,” Leon Diamon said as he washed his car Saturday afternoon in Eagan. “I just hope it stays nice from here on out.”
Of course, Minnesota winters are always unpredictable. Gutknecht says last winter the state had spent $84.9 million on snow removal costs by the end of February. This year, snow removal has cost $70 million so far.
Gutknecht says parts of the state are also saving tons of salt that can chip away at next year’s spending and save cost.
According to MnDOT, the average cost of snow removal for a full winter season is about $85 million. Last year the state spent $136 million.
Gutknecht says extra salt and less time spent plowing the roads could mean more money for filling potholes over the summer.
“We know we can get snow as late as May,” Gutknecht said. “Two years ago we had 6-8 inches of snow.”
Last year, MnDOT got $20 million in emergency funding from the state to make up for the harsh winter.
Officials say the snow removal budget isn’t the same pot as the road construction budget, so even if there is more snow removal or less than expected, it doesn’t impact any road construction projects or repairs.