A national organization is encouraging Utah lawmakers to reallocate millions of dollars to help state transportation officials deal with the snow removal costs and repairs to roads caused by flooding and landslides.
“We commend Governor Cox for calling for a special session so that legislators can take action to address the needs of the state transportation department. Utah set a new record for snowfall during the 2022-2023 winter season, with one ski resort receiving over 900 inches – 75 feet – of snow. Those record-breaking levels caused the state to spend about 70 percent more than was originally budgeted for snow removal,” said Harvey Scott, president of the National Coalition for Open Roads, an organization that advocates for responsible policies and cost-effective winter road maintenance practices to ensure roads remain open and safe.
During a special session on Wednesday, Utah legislators will consider several bills, including House Joint Resolution 101, which would extend an existing emergency declaration flood mitigation and infrastructure rehabilitation from the current May 18 deadline to April 15, 2023. The legislature will also consider H.B. 1001, which would allow the Utah Department of Transportation to move $20 million from construction projects to pay for the snow removal costs and current mitigation needs.
“Utah’s snow-water equivalent was about 200 percent of normal at the start of this month and that’s resulting in flooding in certain parts of the state. That damage has to be paid for, so it makes sense for the state legislature to approve the shift of money to address today’s needs. This situation also underscores why all states need to have money in reserve and budget appropriately,” Scott added.
In the western United States this past winter season, parts of Arizona, Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington set new snowfall records during the 2022-23 season.
The National Coalition for Open Roads was established in 2020 to encourage responsible policies and cost-effective winter road maintenance practices to ensure roads remain open and safe. The organization has offices in Washington, DC, and Utah.