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Blizzards bust Helsinki's snow removal budget

The city's road maintenance chief says another four to five million euros will likely be needed this winter for snow removal.

Henkilö ylittää katua kahden lumiauran takaa lumipyryssä.
File photo of a snow removal machinery. Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle
Yle News

Road maintenance crews in Helsinki have already collected and dumped 80,000 lorry loads of snow this winter, while more snow is still on the way.

During average winters, snow removal teams fill up between 40-60,000 truckloads of snow.

The current situation prompted the city's snow removal team to figure out how to deal with the extra white stuff.

Helsinki earmarked 24 million euros for snow maintenance this winter, but that is not going to be enough, according to Pekka Isoniemi, the city's maintenance unit chief. He said an additional four or five million euros will be needed to do the job.

The workers transport snow to nine dumping sites, but these are starting to fill up, according to Isoniemi.

The city also continues to dump snow into the sea, off the island district of Hernesaari, however the practice has raised widespread environment-related questions and criticism.

Isoniemi said the snow removal team decided on Wednesday to fortify its equipment arsenal in order to address the growing problem, with the city planning to bid for contractors to carry out additional work.

The city is also planning to arrange more trucks, tractors, snow blowers and ploughs.

"We probably need more equipment than we can get. Everyone wants more equipment in the area," he explained.

One problem snow removal crews are faced with is snow that gets shovelled from properties onto recently-cleared city streets.

"Even though the street has just been cleared, there may be more snow on it within a week, even if it hasn't snowed," Isoniemi said.

While this winter has received heavy snowfall, it still has a way to go to reach the record-amounts of snow that fell on the city in the winter of 2010-2011.

That winter, city crews scooped up around 300,000 lorry-loads of the white stuff and the snow removal budget ballooned by 14 million euros more than originally planned.

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