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AROUND SLOVAKIA - BRATISLAVA

A cheap winter for the capital

BRATISLAVA came off lightly this winter, it has emerged. The capital put aside Sk189 million for winter road treatment, snow-ploughing and repair of winter damage, but the light winter meant maintenance costs only reached Sk43 million. The city therefore saved more than 75 percent of its budget - for the second consecutive year, the Pravda daily wrote.

BRATISLAVA came off lightly this winter, it has emerged. The capital put aside Sk189 million for winter road treatment, snow-ploughing and repair of winter damage, but the light winter meant maintenance costs only reached Sk43 million. The city therefore saved more than 75 percent of its budget - for the second consecutive year, the Pravda daily wrote.

The first 'winter action' was on November 11, 2007, when an ice layer began forming on bridges, and the last one was on March 19, 2008, when the wet surfaces of roads on bridges and in some parts of the city started freezing, the city administration spokesperson Eva Chudinová informed the daily.

Throughout the season the city introduced only a partial winter alert, which was in effect from December 16 to February 4.

"Because of this, not all of our machines had to be prepared. So far, the new system has worked well," Milan Cílek, the Vice-Mayor, said before the end of winter season. This solution has proved much cheaper for Bratislava. While the city administration has paid almost Sk900,000 per day for a full alert in the past, a partial winter alert costs about one third as much.

The mild winter has helped Bratislava's roads and green spaces. The money saved - about Sk146 million - will be used for the same purpose as last year, Cílek confirmed: "To repair roads, renew the green spaces or pavements."

The capital maintains a total of 438.2 kilometres of roads, which amounts to more than four million square metres. It has 80 vehicles at its disposal. During the winter 2,538 tons of salt were used, equivalent to six fully-loaded Boeings 747 jumbo jets.

Emergency maintenance vehicles drove 33,380 kilometres, or about the same distance as Bratislava to Melbourne and back. During the previous winter, Bratislava spent Sk107 million on winter maintenance, out of a planned budget of Sk187 million.

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