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City plows stay busy in Missoula

By Emily Adamson, KECI Reporter, eadamson@keci.com
Published On: Feb 24 2014 12:04:20 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

In Missoula city snow plow drivers are staying busy Monday, and they’re gearing up for what could be another long night.

But all of the snow and ice is taking a toll on the Street Maintenance Division’s budget.

Typically the city sends out about eight drivers at a time. Their shifts overlap so they can cover lots of ground. The work takes all day, or until it stops snowing --- that means crews can end up working lots of overtime.

“When I get snow events like the last few we've had I don't really have a choice,” said Street Division Superintendent Brian Hensel. “We'll have the guys work as much overtime as necessary.”

But that pulls from their budget, one that's being drained rather quickly this season due to severe weather.

“We've certainly had more large snow events than what we typically see,” Hensel said. “These storms are expensive.”

At the same time they don't have a choice. When it snows, they go, even if it means taking some extra money to get the job done.

“When we have to sit down and buy ice slicer and mag. (magnesium) chloride and sand and wet salt it adds up.”

The Street Maintenance Division has already spent more than $235,000 deicing products this season.

That puts the division over the $211,000 that was set aside for the products. Hensel said money will be pulled from other street maintenance accounts to balance it out at the end. He added they typically go over budget on deicing products as the costs have gone up in the last five years.