Snow storms aren't always cheap

snagem@newsobserver.comFebruary 12, 2014 

  • Traffic woes

    Snow and ice snarled traffic Wednesday afternoon and evening, prompting some drivers to abandon their cars along local roadways.

    Cary’s 911 center received 465 emergency calls and 507 non-emergency calls between 1 p.m. Wednesday and early Thursday morning, according to the town. There were 69 vehicle crashes; of those, 15 had non-life-threatening injuries.

— Off of James Jackson Avenue, rows of snow plows wait for the cue to clear Cary’s roads when winter weather rolls in. Tons of salt sits in storage areas, eventually making its way onto local streets.

Cary’s annual snow-removal budget is $100,000. The town keeps 2,000 tons of salt/sand mix and 800 tons of pure salt at the William M. Garmon Operations Center.

Workers poured 1,300 tons of salt/sand mix and 125 tons of salt on the roads on Wednesday when several inches of snow fell, said Cary Public Works Director Scott Hecht.

As soon as the town uses the snow-fighting materials, it replenishes them.

This winter, the town has needed quite a bit. During the snow storm the last week of January, Cary used 1,500 tons of salt/sand mix and 300 tons of salt, Hecht said.

The town spent $35,000 to replace the materials, Hecht said, and another $8,000 to replace some snow-plow blades.

When big storms hit, Cary must pay workers overtime to treat the roads. During last month’s storm, Hecht said, public works employees logged about 1,100 overtime hours.

Once the storm is over, Cary hires a contractor to clean up the mess left behind from the salt/sand mix.

“It’s messy,” Hecht said. “I’ve got to clean it all up.”

So far, the snow budget is holding up, Hecht said. If at any point the town exceeds the budget, he said, town leaders move around money from other parts of the budget.

“We just work it (in) and deal with it,” Hecht said. “We’ve never not had enough. (Town) Council has already approved if we needed more.”

So far, Hecht said, Cary hasn’t had trouble finding the sand/salt mix. But he’s heard that some towns are running out and can’t find more.

After this storm, he said, “Everyone and their mother is going to be needing salt.”

In Apex, the town had spent about $20,000 for snow removal this year before Wednesday’s storm hit, said Tim Donnelly, director of public works and utiltities.

Staff writer Aliana Ramos contributed to this report.


Nagem: 919-460-2605; Twitter: @BySarahNagem

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