The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
VDOT CLAIMS SAVINGS FROM A MILD WINTER
BY SCOTT SHENK
Unless winter goes out with a roar, the Virginia Department of Transportation can count itself lucky.
VDOT’s 14-county Fredericksburg District budgeted $6.6 million to help keep roads clear this winter, but with spring fast approaching it has barely tapped into those funds. Thus far, the department has spent just $1.6 million of that budget.
“We’ve had only four events where we mobilized,” said VDOT spokeswoman Kelly Hannon.
Crews have spread 7,929 tons of salt and 5,136 tons of sand this winter. They haven’t had to use any of VDOT’s stash of liquid calcium chloride, which helps keep roads from icing over.
VDOT’s statewide figures aren’t in yet, but it’s safe to assume the figures are similar to those for the Fredericksburg District because this winter has been mild throughout the state.
Just 3.1 inches of snow has fallen in Virginia this winter, the third-smallest total on record, according to the National Weather Service.
The light winter season has helped soften the blow VDOT felt from the widespread flooding caused by Tropical Storm Lee in the fall.
Numerous roads in the Fredericksburg District were washed out during the storms.
Most of the damage was spread out over Westmoreland and Caroline counties. But there was also road damage in Spotsylvania, Essex, King and Queen and King William counties.
The repair work to those washed-out roads drained $3.2 million from the Fredericksburg District’s maintenance budget.
VDOT likely will recoup some of the losses from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.
The leftover winter budget funds can help cover whatever the feds don’t pay for.
The surplus also will be used for other maintenance work, such as filling potholes and mowing grass.
That work doesn’t seem far away, what with the spring-like weather that has swept into the area.
Hannon warned that winter hasn’t ended yet, but VDOT has less than three weeks left in the official winter season. March 20 is the first day of spring.
Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436