PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The winter weather that whacked Portland brought problems that linger to the city, hitting the Portland Bureau of Transportation the hardest.
PBOT used up its emergency funds months ago. Bureau officials are looking for ways to foot the multi-million dollar tab for repairs they’re facing.
Beginning December 4, the city of Portland limped through 6 separate snow and ice events. PBOT spent about $1.6 million on snow removal alone in the first 3 weeks of January.
There have also been 42 landslides so far this season. Normally there are 2 or 3 landslides. The bureau is still tabulating how much landslide removal has cost — but in January, they spent about $2.4 million.
Their entire annual budget for landslide removal is about $750,000. It was gone in 21 days and forced the bureau to shuffle the financial deck.
“We’ve way exceeded what we anticipated in this year’s budget,” Commissioner Dan Saltzman told KOIN 6 News. He took oversight of PBOT in January when Ted Wheeler became mayor.
“We are seeking federal reimbursement for our expenses, we being not only the transportation department but other city bureaus as well,” Saltzman said. “That’s one avenue, but absent that federal assistance — and we don’t know yet if they’re going to grant that — we have to dig into our own pockets and that’s what we do.”
Saltzman also said they’re asking the City Council for an extra $2.8 million for snow and ice removal moving forward.
“Basically what we’ve been doing,” he said, “is taking money from elsewhere in our budget in our budget to devote it towards emergency snow and ice removal, operations or landslide operations.”
And then there’s the potholes. The recent pothole patch-a-thon filled 6 months worth of damaged roads in just 6 weeks, costing even more money.
“It was as challenging as anything I’ve faced in my time on the City Council,” Saltzman said.