County, MDOT Winter Budgets Dwindling

Ice...snow...arctic temperatures. We've seen our fair share of winter weather this year and the Ingham County Road Department has tried its best to keep up.

"We haven't had a winter this heavy in quite a number of years," said Bill Conklin, Managing Director for the department. "Our crews have been working very hard."

That means coming in early and staying late almost every day to plow and salt the roads and it has taken its toll. During the month of January, the department spent about $270,000 on salt and $85,000 on overtime hours, which is way above normal.

"We've spent nearly half our budget and we hope the winter dies down a little bit," said Conklin. "Otherwise it'll impact our surface maintenance program in the summer."

Taking away money normally used to repave damaged roads and fill potholes. The County Road Association of Michigan says Ingham isn't alone. Most southern Michigan counties are in the same boat.

"They're burning very rapidly through their winter maintenance budget, causing a lot of people to be concerned at the road agency of are we going to be able to do some of those maintenance and preservation projects," said Denise Donohue, Director of the association.

She also says the effects would go well beyond this summer.

"Every dollar we spend today saves six to 14 dollars in road repairs down the road," she said.

Michigan's highways are also in trouble. MDOT uses leftover dollars from winter to help basic upkeep in the summer, but so far this year, winter spending has doubled, making that impossible.

"Mowing and patching potholes. You won't see quite the amount of work done in the summer because we just won't have the funds available," said Kari Arend, Spokeswoman for MDOT.

Both Arend and Bill Conklin say they won't know exactly how summer budgets will be affected until March.


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