Despite the winter spell causing additional expenses in the public works budget, Reedsburg Public Works Director/City Engineer Steve Zibell said he isn’t worried about it as much as how recent rainfall could take a toll on the city’s roads.
Zibell said if the city doesn’t receive any additional snowfall the public works budget will be fine. He said the last two winters were mild, so the department saved some cash to cover the additional costs from this winter.
He said the city is “a little bit above average” on salt usage from Jan. 1 with about 670 tons — about $67,000 of its $100,000 budget. He said the public works department uses about 1,000 tons of salt per calendar year during a winter season.
The city keeps enough salt in its shed at the public works shop on Webb Avenue for about two to three storms. One storm uses about 40 to 50 tons of salt, he said. Because the public works department shop is prone to floods and the cost of salt, Zibell said the city will deplete its supply by the end of the winter and won’t restock until the end of fall.
He said the budget is “probably above” costs on labor and fuel. During winter weather, Zibell said workers log in 14-16 hour days, depending on the timing of the snow.
“It’s so hard to budget for snow because you are going to plow no matter what,” Zibell said. “You just have to do it.”
Zibell said the department is trying to keep ahead of potholes with the constant freezing and thawing. Three times this winter the department has patched up roads city — unusual for winter time. He said the “worst is yet to come” with roads as the weather warms up and the ground begins to thaw.
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“There will be more potholes because of the weather,” he said.
Zibell said the “bad thing” about this winter was the rain. He said the street become “big bath tubs” because catch basins and storm drains are still frozen and get plugged up with snow and ice. With warmer weather he said it shouldn’t be an issue.
“We’ve been clearing out the low spots as much as we can,” he said.
When asked about Governor Tony Evers proposed road budget to help pay for the states roads, Zibell said more money is always a good thing because the roads are “always going to need repair.” Evers proposed budget includes raising the gas tax by eight cents and increasing fees for heavy truck registrations and car titles to assist in paying for the states roads.
However, he’s worried there wouldn’t be enough contractors and time during the summer to complete roadwork done.
“We’re kind of limited,” Zibell said. “We can do so many roads but you only have so much time because we can’t work on it in the winter time. If they gave more (money) to the cities we could do maybe one more street a year or try to pave more.”