No lessons like snow lessons: what local agencies learned from our record-setting winter

Posted at 9:06 AM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-20 11:06:32-05

By now, we know the numbers: the staggering amount of money spent by local school and highway districts trying to cope with this season's crazy amount of snow. From budgets blown by hundreds of thousands of dollars to several million, this winter has certainly taken its toll.

But with the worst of it seemingly over, the question now is, did any good come out of this bad winter season?

Turns out - we did learn a thing or two.

For instance, the West Ada School District is now considering buying some of its own sanding trucks to be able to act faster - and more independently – when storms hit. West Ada spokesperson Eric Exline told 6 On Your Side, "We don't have that equipment right now…there were a few times we could have hit some areas with sand and made the conditions a little better."

The winter weather also caused a record-setting number of missed school days, and that has West Ada officials taking a closer look at their snow-day policy.

“I think we need to clean up that policy a little bit,” says Exline, “not what it says to do, but it wasn't crystal clear in terms of exactly what was triggering those closures so that's something we're going to take back to the board and clean up a little bit."

As far as roads go, the Ada County Highway District says it had new ground to cover as well - in a very literal sense. "We had never plowed residential streets, so we learned what it takes to do that,” says Nicole DuBois with ACHD. “The effort, the time, the expense."


This winter also highlighted the need for quick and effective avenues of communication. DuBois admits that's one area where the agency hopes it can improve."We do feel that one of the things we could do better was communicating with the public, their role in the storm, essentially."

Now, with spring still weeks away, what is yet to be learned is how those over-blown wintertime budgets will impact the area come warmer months.

Exline says very likely, something will have to give. "There will just be some other projects that we won't complete this year because we had an emergency and had to spend it on snow removal," he says.

And the sentiment is the same at ACHD. "Whether we do less chip sealing or another project that was supposed to go to bid this summer, or maybe a little of both, we'll make that determination later this spring," says DuBois. ACHD still has over a month to go for its wintertime operations, so it won't know until April or later which summertime projects may have to get put on hold

6 On Your Side also reached out to the City of Nampa for comment on this story, but they told us they are still in the process of figuring out exactly what they learned from this wild winter and couldn't comment quite yet.