Snow removal taking a toll on counties and townships

When clearing the snowstorm February 21st through 23rd, Quincy crews used about 2,300 gallons of diesel fuel, 369 tons of road salt and $8,300 in labor costs

Plenty of snow has fallen over the last couple of months here in the Tri-State area. And that's put a strain on snow removal budgets for some local municipalities.

Adams County, Ill.

As a road grader makes its way down a gravel road in Burton Township just east of Quincy, it's a sight township Road Commissioner Darin McCleary hopes he doesn't have to see for the rest of the season.

McCleary said there's an art to how his crews plow gravel roads to make sure they don't plow up the gravel as well and do more damage to the road.

"Yeah, I mean we hit the blacktops first, of course, because they will get slick rather quick, with the snow pack and with the gravel it's gotta have at least three, four, five inches on it to make it worth grading. Because if you plow the gravel off, there's more expense. It's a very touchy situation," McCleary said.

McCleary added that on Sunday night alone, he burned through about 190 gallons of fuel plowing about 60 miles of road. That expense cuts into the township's overall road budget, which is about $139,000 for the year.


Meanwhile In Quincy, the director of Central Services, Marty Stegeman, said city crews have been at it since Saturday. He said since December 20th, snow removal crews have been called out 14 times and it's the heavy, wet snow that makes clearing streets more difficult.

"It has been a bit of a learning curve with these really heavy snows. We've been fortunate we haven't had too many of the heavy ones this year, they certainly take a lot longer to get cleared off," Stegeman said.

Stegeman went on to say that when clearing the snowstorm February 21st through 23rd, city crews used about 2,300 gallons of diesel fuel, 369 tons of road salt and $8,300 in labor costs.

Stegeman said he hopes the snow is over for the year so they can start their routine spring maintenance program.

A side note to this story, Stegeman also said that since December 20th, the City of Quincy has spent about $200,000 on snow removal, which includes fuel, salt supplies and labor costs.

Pike County, Ill.

"As soon as we know that we need to be out, we get out," Chris Johnson, the Pike County engineer said.

Pike County crews hit the streets at 5 a.m. Sunday, spending about 14 hours plowing county roads. They were back at it Monday taking on snow drifts.

"Our costs are going up drastically in every facet of the business here," Johnson said.

The fuel along to man these machines continues to skyrocket...crews burned more than 500 gallons of diesel over the weekend. That mixed in with salt, manpower, and equipment adds up to a costly snowstorm for Pike County that takes away from the everyday operational costs throughout the year.

"Between Sunday and Monday, I'm estimating it's going to cost us $20,000," Johnson said. "I know the townships, these storms are hitting them really hard, because their resources are much worse than ours."


"We're keeping ahead of it, but this is a rough one," Parker Zumwalt said.

Parker Zumwalt is the Pittsfield Township Road Commissioner. He and one other on staff spent most of Sunday and Monday morning on the roads.

"You gotta go so slow and it's hard to push and it's so hard on equipment. It's just expensive all the way around," Zumwalt said.

Zumwalt says he's not so worried about the financial aspects of this snowstorm, but rather the effects the snow will have on the roads in the coming months.

"The last two snows we've had have been real wet snows. The grounds haven't been frozen. All that moisture is going into the ground and I think we're sitting on a ticking time bomb, that these gravel roads will fall through. The county and state roads are all on hard surfaces. When they clear the snow, they're done. But our work has just begun," Zumwalt said.