Counties paying for "Polar Vortex"

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - Now that most of the roads are clear, county highway departments are adding up the costs of this storm.

In Chicago, officials are saying its likely they'll strain or spend more than their $20 million snow removal budget. The price tag for this storm in Williamson County adds up to almost $250 million. Both ends of the state are struggling to keep up with Mother Nature.

Williamson County Highway Engineer, Greg Smothers said they were dealing with some unique conditions for our area. The initial rain, then ice, then snow did cause problems, but Smothers said, the "Polar Vortex" blasted our region with temperatures that made even his strongest chemicals ineffective.

"And that's where the costs add up,' Smothers explained. "Cause you're making multiple trips throughout the county with all your vehicles. You're also putting down a lot more chemical, and with the cold weather you have a lot more breakdowns."

Smothers said no matter how well you plan, storms like this one are almost impossible to budget for.

"When you get into an extended weather like this, you get an extended winter like this, and you get in significant dollars, those are the things you don't account for," Smothers said. "I'm already starting to look at things that we can do to try and offset some of these costs."

Smothers said crews did not use road chemicals when they would basically be ineffective as to not waste money. Smothers said with this storm alone, the county used more than 100,000 tons of salt.

He said he's already looking at a few summer spending items to try to offset this winter. It's likely he'll put off a few purchases, but no serious cuts at this time.

Smothers said the county has spent more this year than they have in the past three.

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