WINTER MAINTENANCE: Snow removal cost Anchorage, Alaska, millions more this winter than previous years

The city spent about $4 million more this past winter than the previous two winters

May 24, 2017
Snow removal cost Anchorage, Alaska, millions more this winter than previous years
Snow removal cost Anchorage, Alaska, millions more this winter than previous years

The city of Anchorage, Alaska, spent about $4 million more on snow removal last winter than in each of the previous two winters, but $5 million less than a winter five years ago with record-breaking snowfall, according to data provided by the city.

This year's snow maintenance price tag reflects a cost-cutting decision to haul away less snow near the end of winter, according to city officials.

The city wanted to compare the most recent winters as well as an above-average snow year. The data was compiled by an employee in the city's public works administration, who polled other departments about their snow-removal expenses.

From October to April, an official 82.4 in. of snow fell, amounting to $10.8 million in snow removal expenses, according to data provided by the city. The previous two winters, the city spent a combined $13.7 million for 63.4 in. of snow. But in the single winter of 2011-12, when 134.5 in. of snow fell, the city spent more than $16 million on snow maintenance.

The data broke down into four categories: roads, which includes city-maintained roads as well as rural roads where the residents pay special taxes for snow removal; facilities, which mostly includes parking lots; the parks department, which also refers mostly to parking lots and not trail maintenance; and utilities and other city enterprises.

Anchorage pays a base amount every year to maintain a professional snow-removal crew. That includes equipment, training and maintenance facilities. The price tag balloons as the amount of snow increases, for overtime, extra fuel and more maintenance on equipment. A mix of city employees and contractors works on snow maintenance.

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