Winter has cost more than South Dakota Department of Transportation planned

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The coming blast of snow and rain for much of KELOLAND isn’t what the South Dakota Department of Transportation had in mind.

The department already has plowed more than predicted into clearing roads this winter. 

State Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said Monday his department had spent $21.2 million on winter maintenance.

He said his department anticipated $20.4 million.

“I’m sure with the weather forecasted for this week that we will be adding to that overall winter maintenance cost total,” Bergquist said.

Last winter, the department anticipated $21.8 million and used nearly $19.9 million.

The state Transportation Commission has approved a winter maintenance plan each fall for many years. But Bergquist said the department doesn’t have a specific budget item for it.

He said winter maintenance instead was one component of the department’s general operating budget and includes wages, fuel, materials and other expenses. 

The 92-page winter plan covers everything from proper operation of the nine tow-plows and locations of the 30 permanent messaging boards to the right alignments of plows and mixes of materials.

There’s even a map at the back that shows priority routes throughout South Dakota that average more than 1,000 vehicles per day in the winter.

Those include east-west routes US 12, US 212, US 14, Interstate 90 and US 18, as well as north-south roads US 85, US 385, SD 79, US 83, US 281, SD 37, US 81, Interstate 29 and SD 15.

There are also the two metropolitan areas of Sioux Falls and Rapid City, as well as some shorter segments.

The department began the winter with 388 plows and sanders for daily use and 44 spares spread across one dozen parts of South Dakota.

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