Now that both snowstorms have passed we're getting an idea of just how much the winter mess will cost you. The storms dropped a record 21 inches of snow in Wichita and the recovery costs continue to climb.
Wednesday morning's commute was a mess, which means crews are still working
"They'd hit slick spots on the overpasses and bridges and slide out of control," said Master Trooper Eric Molleker.
At least a dozen accidents closed down the eastbound lanes of Highway 254 at the Hillside exit for most of the morning commute.
"Today was as dangerous as any of the other days that we had snow and ice," said Molleker.
Kansas Department of Transportation crews had to come out, again, to salt and sand the roads.
In the last week they've pre-treated and plowed 504,000 miles of Kansas highways, enough to circle the earth 20 times. Five hundred seventy-five KDOT trucks spread 10,000 tons of salt and 250 tons of sand on the highways.
The cost for all that? $6 million or about $2.25 cents for every registered vehicle in the state.
The Kansas Highway Patrol took more than 1700 calls for help last Thursday alone, one of the highest call loads troopers have ever dealt with. They responded to a total of 141 accidents over the last week, the majority of them in Sedgwick County. Twenty-three of those accidents involved an injury, including three which involved the State Patrol's own Motorist Assistance vehicles.
"And had several other accidents happen basically right on the road while he was standing there," said Molleker. "And he came running, diving into the ditch, trying not to get run over."
In Sedgwick County, Sheriff's deputies only had 30 accidents, mostly due to motorists staying home. Deputies performed 170 motorist assists, mostly helping folks in vehicles that had slid off the road. Despite this, deputies only put in 19 hours of overtime, no more than in a regular week. This was because the Sheriff's Office was able to pull personnel from other departments to supplement their street patrols.
"We had no choice but to keep going," said Joe Pajor, Deputy Director of Public Works in Wichita.
The city paid $423,000, as of Monday, to clear the streets. City crews put in a combined total of 5,590 hours on the road. The first of the two winter storms used 4,800 tons of salt, about half the city's supply. Replacing it will cost $119,000.
"We are projected to be over our budget at this point," said Pajor. "I think that this is probably going to go down as one of the more expensive storms that we've had to battle."
Despite the overrun, the city will continue to provide plowing and street treatments as needed. After the winter season is over, the Public Works department will go to the City Council to request more money to cover the extra cost.
But the total isn't in yet. The repeated melting and re-freezing of the snow on city streets will cause potholes which Wichita will also have to pay to fix. However, that will come out of a different fund.
Both the City of Wichita and the governor today praised citizens for staying home during the storm. They say that kept the numbers of injuries much lower than they could have been.
At Via Christi's emergency rooms, doctors saw 84 weather related cases. Four of them were heart attacks caused by shoveling. There were also14 trauma cases from slips, falls and motor vehicle accidents.
Sedgwick County dispatch says it sent units to 306 accidents and responded to 383 calls of vehicles stuck in the snow. That was just on peak service days during the worst of the two storms. Dispatchers say the total number of calls received was about the same as on any other day. They simply traded shoplifter and disturbance calls for more traffic related calls.