Mild Winter Increases Road Maintenance

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RENO, NV - A mild winter could mean several things: a drop in business on the mountains and even a drought. However, there's always a silver lining. The Nevada Department of Transportation and Washoe County are playing catchup and are using the weather to their advantage.

A typical winter in Reno means slippery roads and accidents, which means lots of overtime for maintenance crews. It's an entirely different story when the white stuff just isn't falling.

'This is a very dry unusually warm winter for us in this region and for our snow and ice operations," Thor Dyson, Nevada Department of Transportation district engineer said.

This year, NDOT had a $4.8-million maintenance budget, which is the result of a 15% cut from the 2013 fiscal year.

"We're very lucky that we've had a mild winter because we're still within our budget," Dyson said. "63% of our fiscal year is complete and we've spent about 60% of our budget at this point."

However, it's good news for streets like Glendale Avenue, that have been put on the wayside. All the money leftover from the budget will go toward maintenance projects like fixing cracks in asphalt.

"It allows us to catch up on a lot of road maintenance activities such as asphalt patching and cracked ceiling that normally we're not able to work on in the winter months," Adam Searcy, Washoe County Road Operations superintendent, said.

Searcy says he's seen a reduction in maintenance and overtime costs, saving the county up to $70,000 dollars this year, but there's still no rest for road crews. The vehicles and personnel are used in other activities.

"It's a never ending pursuit of road cleanup," Searcy said.

Winter is not yet over, but the Sparks, Reno and Washoe County are fully prepared for anything mother nature has in store.

"We are ready as can be," said Searcy. "The guys are anxious to do what they do best. We also have materials stockpiled at this point that would take several storms to use up."