Snowplowing costs rise as winter continues

GREAT FALLS (AP) — Officials say the cost of plowing Montana roads has been higher than average and is continuing to rise as winter weather persists.

The state Department of Transportation has spent $29 million plowing the 25,000 miles of roads it maintains.

Maintenance Division administrator Jon Swartz says the expenses have exceeded the average winter maintenance cost of $22.3 million.

The heavy snowfall that pounded much of the state this season has led to the department spending $2.9 million on overtime and spreading 284,000 yards of sand.

Swartz says it usually spends about $2 million on overtime and applies sand over 170,000 yards.

Swartz says 40 of the 600 plow trucks have been involved in collisions, a higher than average number.