MoDOT faces strains on salt, budget

Engineers say salt shortage, budget overage won't affect response

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - MoDOT planned to have major roads in Columbia cleared by Thursday morning, after focusing on highways and major routes Wednesday.

Engineers at the Central District office told ABC 17 News a pending salt shortage and ballooning budget for winter roadwork statewide would not affect cleanup operations for this storm.

"We're spending the majority of our time trying to get [Interstate] 70 and [U.S.] 63, those major thoroughfares, to the condition we feel comfortable with on them," said district maintenance engineer Randy Aulbur. "A lot of the activity you'll see overnight will be those other routes, trying to bring them up."

According to numbers obtained by ABC 17 News Wednesday, MoDOT has spent $40 million statewide on winter cleanup operations, close to a yearly average of $42 million.

In the past ten years, 2008 was the most expensive for MoDOT, with cleanup costing $64.7 million. 2012 was the cheapest in the previous decade, with expenses at $15.8 million.

As for the dwindling salt supply in MoDOT control across the state, engineers say they are not worried. They've put in orders for more since around Christmas, but a harsh winter nationwide has increased demand and slowed delivery.

While trucks are loaded with salt this week, engineers did not expect to use much.

"Salt supplies are coming down and we've got to kind of watch, be smart about how much of it we use during temperatures like this when the effect of what you are putting down is just not there," Aulbur said.

MoDOT crews said they would be shifting their focus to major roads within the city of Columbia, like Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard into Thursday morning.

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