April 15, 2021

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Historic snowfall put city transportation $1.2 million overbudget | Local Government

Snow blankets the Haymarket in January. The Lincoln Airport reported 49.4 inches of snow this season, nearly double what falls in an average winter.

A historic snowfall in Lincoln over the winter cost the city’s transportation department about $1.2 million.

The city budgeted $5.3 million for snow removal and related costs but will spend more like $6.5 million, an amount that includes replenishing the city’s supply of brine and salt, as well personnel costs for the remainder of the fiscal year, Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department Director Liz Elliott told the City Council on Monday.

The budget included hiring contractors to help with snow removal, a new program the city decided to test this year before Mother Nature dumped the second-largest snowfall ever recorded on the Capital City.

The city contracted with six local companies, which focused on residential areas, while the city’s fleet concentrated on arterials and bus routes.

Overall, Elliott said after the briefing, she thinks the pilot program went well under tough circumstances.

The city will rebid with contractors for a second year, a process that will begin this summer.

“Obviously, this last year was a historic winter, so our test program was really tested and we do expect to do that at least one more year to see how that plays out in a normal winter, whatever that is here in Nebraska,” she said.

The baptism by historical snowfall did teach the city some lessons officials hope to use to improve the program next year, including adding GPS software for contractors to improve communication and improving the public online dashboard to let people know where plows are at any given time.