ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Transportation spent nearly $133 million on snow removal during the 2018-19 season, an increase of $9 million from the previous winter, its winter maintenance report said.

The statewide snowfall average was 97.2 inches during 31 snow events, the report said. The Winter Severity Index, which uses temperature, hours of snowfall, blowing snow and precipitation type as examples of its nine factors, rated the past winter at 154, up 40 points than the 2017-18 season and was its most severe rating since the index was implemented. In 2017-18, the statewide snowfall average was 88.7 inches with an average of 30 snow events.

“Snowfall amounts don’t tell the whole story about the challenges MnDOT crews face during winter,” said Jed Falgren, acting state maintenance engineer. “Every area of the state experienced more hours of snowfall compared to the previous winter. Road and air temperature averages were down and hours of freezing rain were up — those elements have a huge impact on how quickly we can clear roads.”

The state exceeded its bare lane targets for the 10th consecutive year. With a 70% goal, 84% of state road lanes met this classification. By comparison, the statewide snowfall average during the 2014-15 winter was 39.4 inches and 87% of the road lanes were bare with a total snow removal cost of $88 million for the season.

“The Winter Maintenance Report helps tell the story very clearly: with the fifth-largest roadway system in the country and more extreme weather conditions than most states, it costs a lot of money to maintain transportation infrastructure and keep people moving in Minnesota,” MnDOT Commissioner Margaret Anderson Kelliher said in a statement. “I’m so proud of the employees of MnDOT, who worked long hours through challenging conditions to keep our roads safe.”

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Other statistics for the 2018-19 winter:

  • The state used 1,814 full-time and backup workers

  • 198,000 hours of overtime were allocated.

  • More than 800 plow trucks were used

  • 35,900 tons of sand and 246,505 tons of salt were applied on roadways
  • $4,361: The costs of plowing, salting and sanding per lane mile using statewide average
  • Snow and ice expenditures were about 7.1% more than than the 2017-18 winter

MnDOT used less road salt and sand during the 2018-19 season compared to the previous winter, applying more liquid chemicals, such as potassium acetate, BEET HEET, Apex-C and RG8.

The chemicals proved to enhance the performance of road salt during extreme conditions, which led to routes being cleared faster and with less material.

Due to its success, maintenance supervisors discussed using more liquid applications next winter at the post-winter meeting. Lawmakers approved a budget adjustment to invest in ways to expand brine production and add additional storage tanks across the state, a MnDOT report said.