- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The overtime that the state of Ohio is paying crews to keep roads cleared during this snowy winter may cut into road construction projects later in the year.

The Ohio Department of Transportation has a $2.8 billion budget. This winter, it already has spent $13.1 million on overtime for statewide snow and ice removal, up from about $9.8 million all of last year. Two years ago, the state spent $5.7 million on overtime.

“We’re going to make money available out of that $2.8 billion to get that (snow-removal) job done,” spokesman Steve Faulkner told The Columbus Dispatch (http://bit.ly/NBNVPU ) for a story Wednesday. “Does that mean it could come at the cost of a project here or there later on as we move through this year? Sure. But we have an obligation to keep our roads safe, clear and passable to the motoring public.”

Ohio’s total cost for keeping roads clear so far this winter has been about $85.6 million, already higher than last winter and far higher than during the mild winter two years ago.

Ohio cities also are paying overtime trying to keep streets clear during a string of big snows this winter.

In Columbus, which has had its snowiest winter in decades, schools were closed three days in a row last week because crews had not cleared all the side streets. Last weekend, the city hired private contractors and got help from Franklin County snowplows.

Through Jan. 31, the city had spent about $246,000 on overtime compared with about $117,000 all of last year. The city hasn’t calculated overtime costs yet cleaning up after the snow that brought more than 10 inches to central Ohio last week.

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Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com

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