We don't need numbers to tell us how bad this winter's been. But MDOT officials say the cost of doing business over this historic season is on the rise. As state leaders break down the numbers and the big chill breaks down the roads, drivers are breaking down at their car repair bills.
"We're living in pothole heaven!" said Auburn Hills resident Sharon Haimbaugh, "Or pothole hell."
Just a short ride around Haimbaugh's neighborhood gives you a glimpse into how rough the ride can get.
"I mean, it's just boom, boom, boom!" said Haimbaugh, "You try to move from one lane to the other and it's just boom, boom, boom."
And with each boom comes the chance at a hefty bill. Haimbaugh's new tie rod and a few flat tires cost hundreds.
"We don't have the money to keep getting these tires and get these things fixed." said Haimbaugh.
According to the national non profit research group TRIP, Michigan drivers spend $7.7 billion a year on auto repair, lost time, and lost fuel because of these harsh winter conditions. Taking a look at how winter's hit the state's wallet. MDOT's salt usage more than doubled since the last fiscal year, from 99,315 tons in fiscal year 2013 to 235,165 tons in the current fiscal year. Overtime numbers nearly quadrupled, from 6,977 hours in fiscal year 2013 to 27,187 hours and counting this fiscal year.
On a municipal level, Auburn Hills public works department says it will probably spend $50,000 more on its winter budget, which usually lands around $100,000.
"We expect our overtime budget will exceed last year," said Ron Melchert, with the Auburn Hills Public Works Department, "We'll exceed our road materials budget. We're gonna do the best we can to contain it, keep it as minimal as possible as far as going beyond budget."
Of course, for drivers like Haimbaugh, winter's finances have already felt like a rough ride.
"Well, you can feel em."