Municipalities and agencies throughout Wood County have been marshaling their stockpiles of salt to combat the snow and ice on the roadways. While some are using less salt than usual, others are concerned their supplies may not last until spring if the frigid weather persists.
|A snow plow is seen north of Bowling Green. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The City of Bowling Green received a shipment of 500 tons of salt Tuesday, part of a contract the city has with the ODOT Cooperative Purchasing Program. The city also collaborates with the ODOT District 2 garage on East Poe Road to produce brine for pre-treatment of city streets.
BG's Director of Public Works Brian Craft said the city started the season with a full shed of salt, bolstered by the fact that usage in 2013 fell below expectations. He expects the salt supply will be OK unless the harsh winter conditions persist. "We've got at least two months left when we might need salt," he said after Tuesday night's city council meeting.
Gary Britten, superintendent of the Wood County Highway Garage, said the problem isn't being able to purchase salt, but getting it delivered. An 800-ton order has been made, but Britten said he's unsure when it will come in.
If subzero temperatures persist, it might not even be much help.
"With this cold weather, we won't be spreading any salt anyhow," Britten said, explaining that the substance fails to melt snow during such low temperatures.
"Last year wasn't too bad. This year's been a little bit tougher."
Britten said that if road conditions are poor and salt isn't making a difference, workers may instead put down fine gravel to help vehicles keep from slipping.
"That'll give people the traction to stay on the road."
Perrysburg Township has also altered the manner in which it distributes salt, said Kraig Gottfried, supervisor of the maintenance department. Gottfried said he received a 280-ton delivery last weekend but can't be sure when an order for another 175 tons will be filled.
"We're going to conserve a little bit right now."
Gottfried said crews have begun reducing the salt they put down in subdivisions, opting only to place it in intersections and at stop signs.
ODOT District 2, headquartered in Bowling Green, has a stable salt supply at present.
"Right now we're holding up within the district," said Spokesperson Theresa Pollick. "We have several different tools at our disposal. We're got, obviously, the brine, the salt/water mixture and we've been treating that on our salt to make it act quicker." Also, use of brine actually cuts down on the amount of salt used, she said.
The brine is also used in combination with beet juice. The juice is also used in combination with calcium chloride to help melt the snow and ice in more frigid temperatures when salt won't work.
"With the harsh conditions, there is a demand for salt, and the supply lines are being challenged to keep up with the demand," said Pollick. "But so far we don't have concerns."
Thus far, statewide, more than $63 million has been spent on ice and snow operations - and $5.4 million of that has been spend in District 2 this season. The statewide amount is slightly above the 10-year-average of $62 million.
"It's shaping up to be a big winter, and we're not even halfway through," said Pollick. "I think that's important to remember."
With upcoming storms and continuing cold temperatures predicted, she said that District 2 is suiting up for the challenge.
"We've got a lot on our plate, but we're ready to do what we have to do to keep everything moving," said Pollick. "Drivers just need to be reminded to slow down."
Lake Township trustees voted Tuesday to buy 300 tons of road salt from Morton Salt Inc., Chicago, for $9,756.
"We're not critical," said Road Supervisor Dan McLargin, who added he was still worried about the supply.
The trustees also purchased 300 tons of road salt for the same price at their Jan. 14 meeting.
Fiscal Officer Vicki Schwamberger asked if the purchase could wait until next month.
"We're running on temporary appropriations and we don't get taxes until the end of February," she said.
But McLargin said he didn't know when the order would arrive, and would be more comfortable if it was in the works.
After the meeting, he said that the salt companies are so busy that often trucks can't get loaded, so the drivers leave for another job.
McLargin said it's been at least three years since the township went through a salt shortage.
"We're actually doing pretty well" in terms of salt supply, said Colby Carroll, administrator for the Village of Haskins. "We just got our second delivery in last week and that was 50 tons."
However, he said, "my guess is by the time this is all over with we'll have put down considerably more than we usually do."
Carroll noted that because salt hasn't been working to melt the ice and snow in the extreme cold "we're not putting down as much. So maybe it'll balance out."
Kathy Healy, administrator of the village of North Baltimore, said "we've used about 125 tons and we've got about 75 tons left in our barn, and we've got over 100 tons left on the dock, so we're in good shape."
She indicated that both cold temperatures, and the use of brine, have cut down on salt usage for the village.
The brine, she said, "helps with our ability to kind of pre-treat (the roads) and so therefore we use less when the snow actually does come, because the roads are actually pre-treated."
Rossford this year has been begun using brine to get ahead of the job of keeping its roads clean. Even with that innovation, the city is "getting into that situation where we're concerned" that the 700-ton stockpile won't be enough for the winter ahead, said City Administrator Ed Ciecka. He said he was getting ready to go to city council and ask to purchase another 150 tons.
The chief reason for the use is both "the number of storms and their length," he said. As in other communities, the frigid weather has reduced the effectiveness of the salt.
Rossford buys its salt through the Ohio Department of Transportation's cooperative purchase program, and pays $32.52 a ton.
Pemberville officials indicated they have a decent supply of salt - at least partially aided by the fact that the village's largest dump truck was out of service for several days for repairs.SClB