Utah Department of Transportation’s $24 Million Budget For Plowing Roads Exceeded by 70% Last Winter

Martin Kuprianowicz |
Little Cottonwood Road, UT, buried in avalanche debris. image: udot

With Alta recording over 900 inches of record-breaking snowfall from October 1, 2022, to May 1, 2023, it’s no surprise that snow plow drivers in Utah were working overtime this past winter. But how much more did they work than an average winter? According to Utah Department of Transportation spokesperson John Gleason who spoke with Deseret News, the state’s $24 million budget for snow removal this past winter was exceeded by approximately 70% due to the massive influx of snowstorms.

Gleason shared that UDOT’s current maintenance budget is $182 million, with $24 million of that budget delegated to clear snow from state roads. That number is based on estimating an average cost of $1 million per storm to send out the snowplows. Deseret News reports that in the previous winter of 2021-22, UDOT spent approximately $21.5 million on snow removal throughout the state. But during the winter of 2022-23, when Salt Lake City alone saw 87 inches of snowfall for the first time since the winter of 1996, it cost UDOT  just under $41 million to keep the state’s roads clear—70% over its predetermined $24 million budget.

According to Gleason, snowplow crews drove over 6 million miles conducting snow removal services on state highways over the past season. In the winter of 2021-22, they drove less than 2.2 million miles. UDOT also spent nearly $18.7 million in costs for road salt over the winter, increasing the amount spent by nearly three times since the previous winter, where only $6.2 million was spent on road salt.

Utah Lawmakers are now planning to adjust UDOT’s maintenance budget by adding an additional $20 million to the fund when they meet in a special session on Thursday, May 18. The expansion in the budget will hopefully increase the effectiveness of which roads are cleared of snow in winters to come. All skiers and snowboarders love powder days and record-breaking season snowfall totals. However, big winters in Utah come at a price quite literally.

Little Cottonwood Road, UT, covered in avalanche debris. image: udot

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