State Road Crews Hope for Another Mild Winter and Big Savings

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

City of Cedar Rapids snow plows head down 8th Ave SE in Cedar Rapids on Friday, January 19, 2011. (Cliff Jette/SourceMedia Group)


By Rachel Begle

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – State road crews are hoping Mother Nature continues blessing Eastern Iowa with mild temperatures.

If Monday's weather is any indication of the future, the outlook is good for state road crews. Eastern Iowa could see temperatures in the lower 60s on Dec. 3, which is rare.

Whatever happens, the Iowa Department of Transportation’s road crews are ready for snowflakes to fly, especially because it didn’t take as much preparation work after last winter’s mild winter.

“We saved about 79 percent on the tons of salt we buy,” Cutler said. “So it just means we didn’t have to order as much.”

Mother Nature had snow plow drivers and DOT workers smiling from ear to ear last winter. State-wide the department saved tens of millions of dollars.

“It was about half of our budget we saved,” said Cathy Cutler with District 6 of the Iowa Department of Transportation. “So, a typical year, just on winter operations, state-wide the dot spends $40 million, and last year we spent just about half of that. So, there was a significant savings as far as materials that we didn’t need to use and obviously some labor savings as well.”

The 171 snow plows that circle the 12 Eastern Iowa counties in district six are also ready. The DOT said since it didn’t need to send them out as much last winter, there were fewer repairs and blades didn’t show as much wear and tear.

Local DOT workers are hoping to keep the savings going, and Mother Nature is working in their favor. By now, transportation officially have typically dispatched snow plow drivers a couple of times. So far, Eastern Iowa hasn’t seen much of any winter precipitation.

Road crews know it's still too early to tell if the warm and dry trend will continue. They'll just have to watch local weather forecasts and wait to see what happens

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