An ODOT truck brines an exit ramp with a saltwater mixture to prevent icy conditions in this 2010 file photo. ODOT reported Friday that it is having no salt supply problems. Other agencies, including those in city of Van Wert, have reported a need to salt more conservatively in coming weeks due to low salt supply. (TB File Photo)
VAN WERT — Snow, sleet, and ice have caused municipalities, counties, and the state to use tons and tons of road salt and salt mixed with brine to try to keep roadways open and not as hazardous. Now with possible sleet and ice in the forecast, many agencies are reporting difficulty in obtaining more salt to complete the winter driving season.
On Monday night, Van Wert Safety-Service Director Jay Fleming reported that the city had used all but 50 tons of its 420-ton supply of road salt, and that attempts to obtain more have failed thus far. He advised that the supply will need to be used conservatively over the next couple of weeks so the emphasis will be on salting city intersections. Fleming remained hopeful that more salt would be available soon.
One agency that reports no problems with salt availability is the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Public Information Officer Rhonda Pees reported Friday afternoon that the agency was having no issues with low supplies at this point.
“We are doing okay on salt presently,” she stated. “We are continuing to get our supply.”
Currently ODOT has an inventory of 15,800 tons of salt on hand. The agency has spent over $5.9 million in labor, equipment, and material cost over this district so far this season. That district takes in Van Wert, Allen, Defiance, Paulding, Hancock, Hardin, Putnam, and Wyandot counties. That is already the most expensive winter for snow and ice treatment in recent memory. Previously the most expensive winter was the winter of 2010-11 when $5.58 million.
The cheapest recent winner was the winter of 2005-06 when ODOT spent $2.5 million. The average winter cost over the past ten years is $4.1 million.
“In our eight-county district which includes Van Wert County we’ve used approximately 45,000 tons of salt. In a typical year, our average is about 35,000 tons of salt. We’ve already exceeded that with a lot of winter left to go,” Pees explained.
A breakdown shows that in Van Wert County, ODOT crews have used over 6,200 tons of salt and over 85,000 gallons of salt brine on the 370 miles of road under the agency’s jurisdiction. Drivers have put in more than 113,500 miles in the course of the work for a total of more than $740,000.
While the city and many other agencies have had to modify plans for road treatment, ODOT remains in good shape.
“We have ample supply of salt,” emphasized Pees. “Our situation now is okay and we expect to have the salt we need. That is our number one snow and ice fighting-material. That’s what our crews need to do their job effectively, and we anticipate continuing to have that.”