Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

February 8, 2014

Down but not out

Local highway and public works departments running low on salt


Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Miller said Lockport received a couple of small salt loads Thursday. Like others, the town has an outstanding order of salt that hasn’t been filled yet. Of an ordered 2,000 tons worth, Lockport has received about 200 tons of it, Miller said.

A typical, two- to three-inch snowfall would require about 90 to 100 tons of salt to de-ice roads, Miller estimated.

Keith Hurtgam, Hartland highway superintendent, said the town received about 350 tons of the 1,000 it ordered three weeks ago.

Each municipality in New York is under a state Office of General Services contract with North American Salt. Under the terms of the contract, North American is paid a fixed price for a predetermined amount of salt, 70 percent of which the municipality is required to take delivery of regardless of the weather. Deliveries of salt are supposed to come every five days and any amount needed beyond the reserved amount can be billed at a different price.

Under the contract, municipalities are unable to purchase salt from another vendor.

Close to nine inches of snow fell on the area Wednesday, causing cancelations pretty much everywhere. Mike Tracy, the deputy public works commissioner for Niagara County, said county trucks would use about 150 to 200 tons on average for a typical snowfall.

Municipalities have to reserve their salt amounts fairly early in the year. Officials estimate a total that has to cover the first quarter of a calendar year as well as November and December later on, they don’t consider the estimate as a complete winter season.

The county usually reserves 5,500 tons of salt for a winter season, Tracy said, but sometimes the amount isn’t enough.

”This is one of those years where that’s not going to work,” Tracy said. “We have about 80 percent of the reserved amount already, that’s not a lot to play with.”

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