As Massachusetts reeled from its third major winter storm in two weeks, state and local officials focused on public safety.
Sifting through the finances will come later. Many communities are still totaling the costs of the three storms that have dumped up to 80 inches in some parts of the state.
"I think the goal in the short term is remove the snow and we'll worry about how we're going to pay for it afterward," Gov. Charlie Baker said at a Monday morning press briefing in Framingham. "You don't want to skimp on public safety."
Enough snow has fallen "to fill Gillette Stadium 90 times," Baker added, referring to the Foxborough home of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh acknowledged that the city of Boston has used up its $18 million snow-removal budget.
"Our snow budget? We've spent it," said Walsh, who has spoken with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio about borrowing extra snow melters. "We've taken hundreds of thousands of piles of snow, brought it to snow farms and melted it, and there's still snow on the ground."
Baker said the problem of where to put the extra snow is a vexing problem for localities statewide. "On the state roads we can just push it to the side," he said.
Marshfield, where a blizzard two weeks ago leveled a sea wall and some waterfront homes, expects to have exhausted its $400,000 snow-removal budget, town Administrator Rocco Longo told Boston television station WBZ.
"You have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Alan Rubin, a storm financing expert and managing director at public policy firm Mercury LLC in New York. Rubin, nicknamed the "Hurricane Czar," helped design the catastrophic insurance fund in Florida as a Lehman Brothers executive after Hurricane Andrew hammered the state in 1992.
Especially hard hit was the aging Greater Boston subway system, operated by the state agency Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Red Line commuters were stranded on a disabled train with ice having immobilized the electrified third rail, and service overall was "extremely limited," according to general manager Beverly Scott. Last week, the Green Line and half the Orange and Red Line were shut down in stretches.
The MBTA has a couple of extra weapons in its arsenal, jet-engine powered "Snowzilla" machines to clear snow and ice off the tracks. New York City Transit, a unit of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, loaned two such machines.
According to Scott, the storm re-emphasizes the need to maintain transit infrastructure in Boston and elsewhere. "This will be a big wakeup call," she said. "Infrastructure investments are not popular."
Scott spoke a week after Baker announced budget cuts of $14 million to the MBTA and a further $26 million for its parent, the state Department of Transportation, as part of a plan to narrow Massachusetts' $768 million deficit. Baker and transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack suggested that the cuts would be peripheral to bread-and-butter service, with higher-than-expected fare revenue to offset about one-third of the cuts.
"Transit agencies can be handicapped by underinvestment and overdependence on state funding," the Washington think tank Eno Center for Transportation wrote last fall in its report, "Getting to the Route of It." Eno cited New York and Massachusetts in particular.