By JAY REEVES
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The state of Alabama probably won't go shopping for snowplows despite last week's winter storm.
The Alabama Department of Transportation already has trucks, snowplows and equipment to spread sand and salt water, and spokesman Tony Harris said purchasing many more doesn't make much sense.
The equipment isn't used very often, he said Friday, and the cost of additional machinery outweighs the benefit.
"We'll look at it, but the last ones we bought rusted after 1993," said Harris, referring to the state's last major snowstorm.
Before last week, the state's last major traffic problem linked to snow and ice happened a year ago in north Alabama. Hundreds of motorists were stuck for hours on Interstate 65 in Cullman County after a storm predicted for days dumped 4 inches of snow.
This time, the forecast was the problem. The storm dumped about 2 inches of snow and ice on central Alabama, including metro Birmingham, despite forecasts that only a trace of snow would fall.
Based on forecasts the storm would strike closer to Montgomery than Birmingham, Transportation Department workers took snow plows and spreading equipment south before last week's storm, said Harris. The equipment had to be returned north once the scope of the problem was evident.
Some counties have their own snow removal equipment, and Harris said the state took a "real hard look" at its resources and purchased more bumper-mounted snow plows after the 2013 traffic snarl in north Alabama.
Aside from those plows, which can be attached to large pickup trucks used year-round, Harris said the state has as many as 10 plow blades that fit on dump trucks for larger jobs.
"We have hundreds of dump trucks that are capable of operating, and sand spreaders. We've probably got 10 to 20 spreaders just here in Montgomery," he said.
Transportation officials will assess the state's response to the storm as early as this week.