LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- With multiple weather events this winter, snow removal budgets are already stretched thin.
The snow will be cleared no matter the cost, but road officials in both Indiana and Kentucky say it will mean less money for summer maintenance.
The pinch in budgets is a result of what meteorologists are calling one of the busiest winters in the past five years.
"As far as during my years with INDOT, I can't recall a winter this hard," said Harry Maginity with INDOT's Southeast district.
Metro Louisville has already had 19.3 inches of snow this winter--well above the 12.5 inch average. That means road crews have been extra busy.
"We've got to keep the roads clear of snow and ice because it's a safety issue and safety is our number one priority," said Andrea Clifford with the Kentucky Transportation and Safety Cabinet.
In Kentucky, the state budgeted $30 million for snow and ice removal this year. They've already spent $27 million--and that doesn't include costs associated with this latest storm.
According to Clifford, snow removal costs the previous two years were $12.8 million and $15.5 million. Much lower than this years figure of $27 million.
In Indiana, transportation officials are reporting similar numbers. They say they've already spent what they usually spend all winter.
"We're about double what we would be normally--at least over a five year spread-- as far as expenditures," said Maginity.
And in both Indiana and Kentucky that means having to cut back in other maintenance areas.
"When you're spending more money in the winter for snow and ice, then you are going to have less budget to spend on something else later," said Maginity.
Just as summer maintenance needs would benefit from a dry winter, officials say those chores will likely have less to work with this year.
"Things like in-place patching for pavement projects, culvert replacements, tree trimming, brush removal, things such as that," said Clifford.
And with more snow in the forecast, road officials realize, there is still plenty of time to increase those already high expenditures.
"These numbers will probably go up," admitted Andrea Clifford.
Because winter is still over a month from over.
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