Problem Solvers


You might be surprised by the MILLIONS VDOT is overbudget

Posted at 10:25 PM, Mar 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-07 12:25:41-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- An anonymous VDOT worker reached out to CBS 6 claiming that contractors for the agency are wasting taxpayer money.

Snow removal is costly for VDOT, and costly for the taxpayers as VDOT has already gone through their snow budget.

In fact, they're a hundred million dollars over budget because of the storms that hit Virginia in the past few months.

One reason why is that the 360 state contractors hired during major snow events work in 12-hour shifts to clear roads.

The anonymous worker hired by the contractor claimed he and other drivers spent three hours parked alongside the highway, when they were supposed to be clearing roads. And he said they charged the state for the time.

CBS 6 reporter Sandra Jones took his concerns about the contractor to VDOT's Infrastructure manager Steven McNeeley, VDOT’s Infrastructure Manager for the Richmond District.

He said that VDOT personnel continuously monitor contractors.

“It is a 24 hour monitoring process,” he said. “We're actually on 12 hour shifts with even non-maintenance personnel.”

“They're actually driving around in four-wheel drive vehicles,” McNeeley said.

However, McNeeley admitted that it is possible to see contractors sitting on the side of the road as VDOT checks out weather conditions to re-assign crews. But not for a three-hour period.

"We will investigate that,” said McNeeley.  “And if there was a situation like that, we will not pay the contractor for that time."

That would be thousands of dollars that McNeeley said covers anywhere from fifty to seventy percent of VDOT'S snow operation budget. They are currently over budget.

“Well again, we're looking into it,” said McNeeley. “We can't really give an assessment to that particular case now.”

McNeeley said all contractors hired by VDOT go through a bidding process and extensive background checks.

He said those contractors make $325 an hour to pay for drivers and equipment.

According to a previous interview with Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Lindsey Legrand, Virginia is allocated $157 million annually for snow removal.

According to Ohio’s  Department of Transportation, the Buckeye state spends $65 million a year on snow removal with 1,627 snow plows available statewide.

According to Minnesota’s Department of Transportation, $54 million is allocated annually to snow removal with 800 plows statewide.

Wisconsin Transportation leaders tell CBS 6 that $45 million are allocated for labor and equipment and $33 million for salt.

Why are Virginia’s numbers so high compared to other states?

The answer may be because state numbers are making up for lower numbers that cities and counties allocate for snow.

According to Richmond’s Department of Public Works, there are anywhere between 40-60 snow plows used to handle snowstorms.

Richmond has budgeted $700,000 this year for snow removal.

When you compare that to the City of Rochester, New York — a city comparable to Richmond — it is clear there are far less snow resources.

Rochester allocates $25 million a year for snow with over 100 snow plows in their fleet.