FAIRBANKS (AP) -- As Interior-area manager for the Department of Transportation, Ron Reitano doesn't usually hope for snow. But things are a little different this year.
''We would like it to snow,'' Reitano told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
This winter's unusual weather has left roads free of snow. Instead, crews have been dealing with ice. Moving snow is easier than melting ice and road crews have been scrambling for the past two months to keep glazed roads safe for motorists.
Instead of paying money to remove snow, the state is spending money to spread gravel, sand and salt on roads. The state Department of Transportation is quickly using up the sand and gravel it bought for this winter, DOT spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy said.
''We buy 8,000 yards at the start of each year, and we've gone through about half,'' she said of the Interior's supply. ''Typically, we'd have gone through about 2,000 yards by now.''
The state has already run out of salt in Fairbanks and had to order more from Anchorage, Reitano said. The salt is mixed in with the gravel and is put on the slickest areas, he said.
So far, the state has used about 100 tons of salt, which is usually enough to last the winter, Reitano said. DOT bought an additional 100 tons of salt at $120 a ton to get through the rest of the winter. At this rate, though, it may not be enough.
The more sand and gravel that is put on the roads now means more work for DOT and city workers in the spring. Crews will have to clean up gravel at intersections and sweep gravel off streets and sidewalks, Reitano said.
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