The cost of snow removal in both hours and dollars

Published: Dec. 14, 2022 at 2:48 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 15, 2022 at 12:22 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Snow removal had just slowed down from November’s winter event, and now here we are during another. Plow operators have walked us through some questions we had. But we had a few more. I spoke with snowplow maintenance coordinator, Jordan Woroniecki about them.

Plow operators have been hard at work since the first snowflakes started flying Tuesday. This month’s storm is different than November’s and poses new challenges.

“In comparison to the November event, this is about the same amount of snow over the course of three to four days, so the intensity is lower. Conditions are worse for a longer period of time, but day by day they’re better than the single day in November,” said Jordan Woroniecki, the maintenance coordinator for the Bismarck district.

With much of this storm’s snow falling in evening hours, roads did close, but by the time most of us were up in the morning, plows had already been out for hours, and the interstate was open once again. Day shifts start at 4:30 a.m.

“During the shift, our operators work anything from eight to 14-hour shifts, and during that shift it’s unlikely that vehicle is turned off,” said Woroniecki.

Driving straight through 14 hours is not only a possibility, but something that happens depending on the severity of the storm.

“We have a limited nighttime crew, anywhere from one to three operators just depending on the event. They begin, by policy, at 3 p.m. and will work until 11:30 or possibly 4:30 a.m. the next morning,” said Woroniecki.

Time is not the only cost during these long shifts, Woroniecki says every hour of operation costs $87 in fuel alone, and for storms like this with prior freezing rain, the cost goes up.

“So, the main anti-icing material we buy is about $97 per ton, but that gets blended with various granular materials or made into brine,” said Woroniecki.

The Bismarck district is home to 64 snowplows and employs 20 operators. As long as this storm sticks around, those orange plows will be running.

Don’t forget about the NDDOT’s Name a Snowplow contest! Submissions are closed, but the winner will be selected and posted in the coming weeks.