Blizzard pushes MA over snow removal budget

BOSTON (WWLP) — The Department of Transportation says the Blizzard of 2013 has pushed them over their $45 million dollar budget to remove snow and ice on state roads this year. They’re calculating the damage, but as a general rule, they say cleanup costs about one million dollars per inch of snow – And Massachusetts was walloped by 20 to 30 inches of snow in many areas of the state. State Senate Majority Leader Stanley Rosenberg noted that those costs don’t even account municipal roads, which cities and towns must maintain separately.

“We know that the state is over because of the big storms that we’ve had.  We don’t know where the communities are,” said Sen. Rosenberg.  “They may find themselves short and in the past when that’s happened they have come to the Legislature and sometimes we’ve been able to provide some supplemental funding.”

Unlike the eastern part of the state, western Massachusetts did not suffer power outages and was able to clear roads more quickly.

“In my own community it was somewhere between 15-16 inches and it didn’t really constitute a blizzard the way it was more on the shore communities and in the Boston area,” said Rep. Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington).

But in the future, lawmakers want better reporting options for residents to improve communications during major storms. Holyoke state Representative Aaron Vega hopes to create a storm page on Holyoke’s city website so residents have a place to report problems and get updated information.

“You know maybe through our new website people will be able to contact the city directly and say ‘can you tell me when there’s going to be a truck coming down, what’s the schedule?’  I think the most frustrating thing is that people don’t know,” said Rep. Vega.

Snow and ice removal costs vary from year to year.  Last year New England had a mild winter and the state spent $35 million on clearing snow.  The year before that, Massachusetts had a much stronger winter, which cost the state over $100 million dollars.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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