Thursday, October 23, 2014

Highway department tallying cost of snowstorm

Elkhart County Highway Department manager Jeff Taylor estimates that the county spent about $74,000 paying hourly workers and using equipment during the most recent snowstorm.
Posted on Jan. 13, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Jan. 13, 2014 at 4:13 p.m.

GOSHEN — Elkhart County is getting a clearer picture of just how much the most recent snowstorm will cost.

Highway manager Jeff Taylor told the county commissioners Monday, Jan. 13, that he is adding up all of the expenses related to the snowstorm. Paying hourly staff as well as running and maintaining equipment cost the county slightly less than $74,000, Taylor said. That estimate does not include the cost of hiring contractors to remove snow in subdivisions and other expenses, he added.

“Sometimes we have not-so-eventful weeks, and then we have weeks like last week that make up for it,” Taylor said.

The county’s snow removal crews encountered several challenges, including labor-intensive 14-hour shifts and wind blowing snow into the roads after they had been plowed.

“It’s not bad until you take into consideration that you can’t see in front of you at all,” Taylor said. “It’s dark, and you add into that there’s people out on the roads that shouldn’t be, and there’s kids playing in snow banks in subdivisions.”

Taylor said some of the highway department’s snow-plowing equipment broke down during and after the storm. He attributed the malfunctions to below-freezing temperatures and overexertion.

Elkhart County was one of 29 counties in Indiana where Gov. Mike Pence declared a state of emergency. The county is applying for emergency federal assistance to reimburse expenses incurred because of the snowstorm.

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