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 — Kevin O’Brien, the county public works commissioner, said Niagara received a delivery of salt on Wednesday. The county is low but should be fine in the short-term.

”It’s a concern for everybody,” he said.

So, highway departments have to be careful with when and how they use salt. Terry Nieman, Royalton’s highway superintendent, said about 200 tons of salt have come in of an order placed Jan. 24 for 500. Wednesday’s snowfall would’ve called for 300 tons in a 24 hour period.

”We’re not using as much, we’ve cut back on application and we’re making it stretch,” Nieman said. “We’re going to do the best we can with what we got.”

Some municipalities wait until the majority of a snowfall has fallen, so not to plow off any salt. They’re regularly salting just intersections, hills and curves to be efficient and help preserve the amount of salt they have.

And then some departments are mixing sand or crushed rock in the salt, so it’ll spread and stick easier. A possible issue with that though, is the sand or rock could get into the sewers and plug things up.

This isn’t the first time there’s been a salt supply issue, Nieman said. In the past, there’s been a few times during a normal or above normal winter where a supplier runs into issues.

But for now, municipalities will just have to keep an eye on their salt piles. And hope spring is here soon.

”Doesn’t make sense to put it down while it’s snowing,” Miller said. “We plow, then lay off (with salting) until the snow tapers off.”

”We have to be stingy, we can’t salt everything, every time,” Tracy said. “We’re being frugal and using salt sparingly.”

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.

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