Road salt is on hand, but some supplies limited

Posted January 29, 2014 at 3:42 pm

A commodity not much thought of during most months of the year is a little bit harder to come by right now and at higher prices–road salt.

Primarily because of the high demand for salt in some areas of the country such as the northeast and midwestern sections of the nation due to the bitter winter season, some states and rural areas are experiencing more difficulty in obtaining the product to help keep roadways safer.

According to news reports, Kentucky Transportation officials say the state has access to enough road salt to make it through what has been a frigid winter, but buying the supplies may come at a cost later.

Transportation Cabinet spokesperson Keith Todd says a ton of salt costs the same as a ton of asphalt. He says money not used on salt can go toward paving roads in the summer. Some county judge/executives say they’ve used up to two-thirds of their county’s salt supply in December alone. Some counties in the state worry about running out of salt and are cutting back to salting intersections to keep the worst areas under control.

Judge/Executive Lyle Huff said Clinton County was down to about 50 tons and the recent snow storm, all be it brief, this past Saturday, prompted Huff to issue a statement noting that only main intersections would be salted and salt would only be used in emergency situations.

Judge Huff said Monday morning, however, that he expects the county will be getting an additional supply of salt from a northern supplier possibly as early as this week, which may alleviate the shortage somewhat.

Huff said it would have probably been better if the county had pre-paid earlier for road salt from suppliers.

The county purchases road salt each year, usually through reverse auctions from salt suppliers, including in Detroit and other areas. The current salt bin owned by the county will hold approximately 250 tons of salt and according to the judge, the bin was almost full at the start of December.

The price of road salt from distributors has also increased drastically over the years. For example, the county purchased the salt for $61.52 per ton in 2007 but by 2010, the cost per ton purchased via bid was $83.65.

“I don’t know how much (tonnage) we had at the start of winter, but it (bin) was almost full,” Judge Huff said. He continued by saying the county was waiting on word from a supplier they may be able to buy from this week to help build up the supply.

Until additional salt is purchased, the remaining salt, if needed, would be used only for emergency services personnel situations and main intersections.

Ricky Duvall, foreman of the Kentucky Department of Transportation’s Clinton County maintenance garage, said although there was a light supply of salt this year, a load had been received locally earlier this week and the local highway department is “in pretty good shape” right now as far as the salt supply goes.

Duvall said they were ‘conservative’ during the past snow last weekend, but added the supplies of salt will be determined by how the remainder of this winter goes.