Blizzard of '96 state's costliest $64.5 million spent so far on removal of snow, Md. officials say

January 24, 1996|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF Contributing writer Miranda Barnes provided information for this article.

The Blizzard of '96 is Maryland's most expensive storm ever, with a preliminary tally of $64.5 million for snow removal, according to figures released yesterday by state officials.

That exceeds the previously reported total of $48 million.

Each county reported its costs to the Maryland Emergency Management Agency in preparation for filing for federal aid, which will cover 75 percent of eligible cost.

Other costs of the storm, such as overtime for stateworkers, have not been completely tallied. Snow removal is by far the major cost.

Although most of the snow has melted, controversy still lingers about how well local governments did in plowing streets and removing snow dumped by what actually were three separate storms. When The Sun invited city residents whose streets had not been plowed to call in, 1,803 people responded.

It is difficult to compare how well jurisdictions did in their snow removal efforts because circumstances and road conditions varied so much. Below are reports based on information supplied by each local government.

Baltimore City

Snow removal: The city's 2,800 miles of main routes had at least one lane clear within 90 minutes of the end of each snowfall, said Public Works Director George G. Balog.

By Jan. 14, crews had plowed or compacted 90 percent of the 1,200 miles of side streets, and by Jan. 16, 99 percent of side streets were passable, officials claimed.

Although a snow emergency was declared the night of Jan. 6, before the first snowflake fell, cars were not towed from snow emergency routes until Jan. 9, after the snowfall ended. Parked cars impeded snow plows, preventing them from clearing parts of some main routes.

Cost: The city spent about $3.2 million for snow removal, about $800 per mile.

Equipment: Crews had 180 pieces, with 124 plows on the street at any one time. About 17,000 tons of salt, a normal year's supply, were spread on the streets.

City offices: Closed the first days after the blizzard -- Jan. 8, 9 and 10 -- and reopened Jan. 11.

Anne Arundel County

Snow removal: By midnight Jan. 15, all of Anne Arundel's main and secondary routes were clear. Ninety-five percent of its cul-de-sacs and dead ends, about a third of the county's 1,600 miles of road, had been plowed, said Lisa Ritter, a spokeswoman for County Executive John G. Gary. On Jan. 11, primary roads were in good enough shape that county crews shifted to digging out cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets.

Cost: Anne Arundel spent about $1.96 million for snow removal, or $1,225 per mile.

Equipment: The county used 107 pieces to battle the storm, including seven graders, 18 front-end loaders and 82 trucks with plows.

County government offices: Closed Jan. 8 and 9, but reopened Jan. 10, 11 and 12.

Baltimore County

Snow removal: The 750 miles of primary roads were open with one lane in either direction within 24 hours of the end of the storm, by the morning of Jan. 9, said Carl Schmidt, chief of the Division of Highway Maintenance. Two lanes on the main routes were opened by Jan. 11. The county then hired 17 private contractors with large pieces of equipment to keep the routes open. All of the county's snow-removal equipment shifted to the 1,750 miles of secondary roads.

Cost: About $1.99 million for snow removal, or $796 per mile.

Equipment: Including equipment from the county, the Board of Education and contractors, 186 vehicles with plows were used. About 10,000 tons of salt were spread on county roads.

County offices: Closed Jan. 8, 9 and 10, and open Jan. 11 and 12.

Carroll County

Snow removal: Carroll has 930 miles of county-maintained roads, about 250 of them considered main routes. Crews had one lane in both directions clear on all roads by the afternoon of Jan. 10, said Jay Nave, an administrative assistant in the Bureau of Road Operations. Two lanes were clear by midnight Jan. 13.

Cost: Carroll County spent about $1.29 million for snow removal, or $1,387 per mile.

Equipment: The county had 71 pieces available, including 49 dump trucks, six graders and four front-end loaders. At the height of snow removal, the county rented about 50 additional pieces.

MA County offices: Closed Jan. 8, 9 and 10, open Jan. 11 and 12.

Harford County

Snow removal: By 10 a.m. Jan. 13, 60 percent of the county's 950 miles of roads had at least two lanes clear, and the rest had at least one lane clear. Beginning Jan. 14, crews came back and began to pick up the snow with front-end loaders. By Jan. 16, all roads were clear, curb to curb, the county reported.

Cost: Harford County spent about $2.8 million for snow removal, or $2,947 per mile.

Equipment: With county workers and private contractors on the job, 120 pieces of equipment were used.

F: County offices: Closed Jan. 8 and 9, but open Jan. 10.

Howard County

Snow removal: The county has 850 miles of roads. All the main routes had at least two lanes open by Jan. 15. All roads had at least one lane open by the evening of Jan. 16. All roads had two lanes open by the evening of Jan. 18.

Cost: Howard County spent about $1.06 million for snow removal, about $1,247 per mile.

Equipment: 55 dump trucks with plows, nine front-end loaders with plows, three motor graders with plows. The county also hired 15 to 20 private contractors.

County offices: Closed Jan. 8, 9 and 10, open Jan. 11 and 12.

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