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Municipalities have plenty of salt for area roads

November 30, 1999|By DAN DEARTH

TRI-STATE

This winter's weather has been so mild that crews treated roads with salt remaining from last year's supply when the first significant snowfall of the season hit earlier this month.

Eric Deike, the City of Hagerstown's director of public works, said the city's salt reserve was in excellent shape when the first snow fell Jan. 21.

Hagerstown used about 180 tons of salt left over from last winter on the snow- and ice-slickened streets, Deike said.

The city has about $80,000 in its budget to buy salt for roads and some sidewalks, he said.

Deike said the city just received about 200 tons of salt to replace that used Jan. 21 to bring the salt storehouse back to its 1,000-ton limit ? enough to cover about four snowfalls.

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"I always make sure our bins are full," he said.

Deike said Hagerstown has about 107 miles of streets to keep clear in the winter.

The Borough of Waynesboro, Pa., has about 100 tons of salt remaining from last year, according to Dennis Benshoff, superintendent of the Waynesboro Maintenance Department.

Benshoff said the past few mild winters have been kind to Waynesboro's snow-removal budget, considering officials spent only $2,800 in 2006. A harsh winter can push snow-removal costs close to $25,000, he said.

Mark Spickler, finance director for the city of Martinsburg, W.Va., said it didn't have a lot of salt left over from 2006 and spent about $8,000 this year to get more.

Martinsburg has allocated about $75,000 in its annual budget in recent years to buy salt and take care of other street-related issues like patching, Spickler said.

Only $50,000 of that budget was spent in 2006, in part, because city officials didn't have to buy a lot of salt to melt ice and snow, he said.

Unused money from the snow-removal budget typically gets carried over to the next year and is used to purchase new equipment, among other things, he said.

"It goes right back into the other departments," Spickler said. "Mild winters are always good for a municipality."

He said the city is spending $54.01 this year for each ton of salt. That price has increased since 2002, when a ton of salt cost $43.43, and since 1999, when it cost $40, he said.

Darrell Parsons, acting administrator of the West Virginia Division of Highways in Berkeley County, said his unit has about 1,500 tons of salt available at all times to cover about 700 miles of roads.

The department has used about 375 tons of salt this winter, and ordered 400 tons to replace what was spread Jan. 21, he said.

Once salt is spread, Parsons said it usually remains effective as long as the temperature doesn't dip below 25 degrees. If that happens, road crews mix salt with a fine gravel to create more traction for vehicles, he said.

"We're in good shape on salt," Parsons said. "We don't have anything to complain about."

The Washington County Highway Department's annual salt budget is about $250,000, said department director Ed Plank.

His crews used roughly 1,000 tons of salt Jan. 21 and 22 to treat the county's 835 miles of roads, he said.

"I think that the Highway (Department) did a very good job," Plank said. "The guys don't get the recognition they need."

Last week, the county spread about 500 tons of salt from last winter's supply and another 500 tons that was ordered in November, he said. Delivery trucks started replenishing the supply Thursday morning.

Plank said the county's four salt bins should reach their combined capacity of 1,750 tons within the next week.

"We still have a great deal of material on hand," he said. "If a (snowstorm) would happen tomorrow, we would be in good shape."

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