A snow-related shutdown of roads and transportation could cost Massachusetts $265 million a day, according to a study from the American Highway Users Alliance.
Over the past three weeks, Massachusetts has been walloped by a series of potentially costly storms. Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency and imposed a statewide travel ban for all non-emergency vehicles on Jan. 26. Other days have been affected by storms, too, whether through reduced transit service, delayed start times, or school closures, all of which add up to economic loss.
On Feb. 3, non-emergency state employees had a delayed start time to their workdays. A week later, on Feb. 10, state offices were closed and businesses were urged to allow employees to take the day off or work from home. Baker did not impose a travel ban during that storm, but he urged residents to stay off public roadways to allow heavy equipment to clear snow. The MBTA, not under Baker’s control, halted all rail-related transportation. Only limited bus service remained an option for car-less commuters.
How much all this will end up costing Massachusetts is unclear; the economic cost for snow disrupting peoples’ daily lives is hard to quantify, and most of the recent storms have affected just the Greater Boston metropolitan area, not the entire state as the American Highway Users Alliance studied.
Still, the type of impact is much the same.
Using data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the group concluded that losses among hourly workers account for almost two-thirds of the direct economic losses of snowstorms. In Massachusetts, almost $200 million in wages and salaries would be lost. The group looked at Census of Retail Trade figures to estimate that $40 million in retail sales would be lost during a shutdown.
Based on these costs, the alliance argues that the cost of snow-related closures “far exceeds” the cost of removing the snow.