SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The winter of 2022-23 will be remembered for being long and expensive.
According to the South Dakota Department of Transportation, the winter of 2022-23 cost more than $40 million – double the amount of money typically budgeted for the department’s winter maintenance plan. The state’s Transportation Commission will consider approving the 52-page 2023-24 winter maintenance plan on Wednesday. You can view the report attached below.
For Fiscal Year 2023, the SDDOT used $40,491,099 for snow and ice control and $493,096 for contracted snow removal. The budgeted amount for the SDDOT was $20.5 million.
“The 2022-23 winter season was definitely one for the record books,” SDDOT Secretary Joel Jundt said in the latest winter maintenance plan. “South Dakota experienced several multi-day winter weather events that were very taxing for our employees fighting the elements.”
In the past five years, the SDDOT had not spent over $27 million for snow and ice control. The winter of 2018-19 cost the state $26.6 million, according to past winter maintenance plan reports.
In April, Jundt told the Transportation Commission the two previous winters saw DOT maintenance crews cover about 1.4 million miles and use about 540,000 gallons of diesel fuel. This past winter, they totaled 3.2 million miles and used about one million gallons. The department’s man-hours more than doubled to 178,000.
The SDDOT is responsible for maintenance on more than 7,700 miles of roadways across the state. The SDDOT has four regions with three areas for a total of 12 areas with an assigned engineer.
In total, the SDDOT has 382 full-time snowplows, 23 road graders with v-plows, 90 snow blowers, 23 tow plows and 59 spare snowplows.
Planning for upcoming winter
For Fiscal Year 2024, the SDDOT is budgeting $23.2 million for snow and ice control and $39,000 for contract snow removal.
The SDDOT has added a specific website page for winter storm information to assist in communication efforts. The page will have the latest news releases regarding Interstate closure and reopening status as well as featured media interviews. Officials say that the page will be continually updated during future winter weather events.
New innovations being tried by the SDDOT include blue lights on plows and other equipment being used for winter maintenance, use of anonymous cell phone location data to identify where traffic has slowed because of winter road conditions and variable speed limit zones on dangerous sections of the interstate.
“Research has shown that blue light carries farther and is more likely to be seen in low visibility. Currently, 80% of full-time SDDOT snowplows are equipped with blue lights,” the report says.