(Bloomberg) -- Scraping against the asphalt, one plow afteranother made its way down New York's busiest intersectionsovernight, noisily pushing around the snow that coated thecity.

In anticipation of the storm, which the National Weather Service had forecast could dump asmuch as 18 inches on some parts of the northeastern U.S., theNew YorkCity Department of Sanitation split its staff intotwo shifts on Wednesday, each group of 2,400 working 12 hours at atime to clear the city's roughly 6,500 miles of roads.

$88 million snow removal budget

Clearing a city the size of New York doesn't come cheap. Thesanitation department budgeted $88 million solely for snow removalthis year. In addition to its full-time employees, the departmentalso takes on emergency snow laborers, who are paid $15an hour to shovel out places a plow can't reach, like busstops, and can earn overtime of $22.50 an hour if they work morethan 40 hours a week. Last year, the department hired between 2,000and 3,000 of these laborers in the aftermath of a majorJanuary storm.

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