BOISE - Winter driving conditions are going to start showing up, and agencies that do snow removal say they're ready to go.
The Ada County Highway District and the Idaho Transportation Department have been preparing and planning for months.
"As of November first, all of our equipment has been tested, loaded, all of our employees trained and we're ready to go once that first snowfall hits," said ACHD spokeswoman Nicole DuBois.
Part of that planning is budgeting, which is based off of what was used in the years before. Last winter, ACHD spent approximately $1.3 million on snow removal. That covers everything from salt to labor. The budget is broken down into categories.
"This year we budgeted about $180,000 for salt, about $450,000 for magnesium chloride," DuBois said. "Labor gets a little different because we have on-call people, so that number is a little different."
DuBois said funding for labor comes from a different budget: the maintenance budget, a $27 million budget that covers labor all year round. From that fund, she said they budgeted approximately $1.6 million for snow removal labor. The rest of the snow removal money comes from the general fund.
The crews removing snow are trained to know how and when to use each method to stay within the budget.
"The operators go out, they're checking their equipment, making sure everything is in order," DuBois said. "Then they actually go out and drive their route physically, so they can see with their own two eyes if there's anything different this year, if something else needs to be added."
ITD takes similar steps.
"Our snowplow crews are very familiar with our highway routes," ITD spokesman Adam Rush said. "They will plow the routes that have the highest volume of traffic on them first and then they'll work their way to other routes to plow those as well."
"They're able to make their own judgment calls," DuBois said. "What is needed where, if a little more treatment is needed somewhere, if they see some snow is drifting across the road that maybe they need to plow that area."
All of this is done with money on the mind.
"One of the big efforts the department has is to innovate and to be as efficient as possible, and to save as much money for our taxpayers as possible," Rush said.
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