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Road salt supplies sufficient for now

January 29, 2001

Road salt supplies sufficient for now



By JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The salt supply for Tri-State area highways and roads is in good shape for now, including in West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle, where state officials recently issued a conservation notice.

The notice was issued last week in response to an accident last month at the state's major salt supplier's Louisiana mine, said Carol Melling, spokeswoman for the West Virginia Department of Transportation's Division of Highways.

As of last week, the state had used 144,000 tons of salt this winter and had 51,000 tons on hand, Melling said.

It could be a month before the state's supply is fully replenished, she said.

"We are asking state motorists for their patience as we treat roadways for ice and snow during this period," Transportation Secretary Fred VanKirk said in a prepared statement.

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IMC Salt Company has salt on barges enroute to West Virginia and Pittsburgh, but doesn't expect to get back to full operation at its Louisiana mine until early February, said Steve Briggs, vice president of sales for IMC's North American Highway-Chemical group.

IMC provides more than 60 percent of West Virginia's salt, but does not provide salt for local counties in Maryland or Pennsylvania, highway officials said.

While the City of Hagerstown's salt supply was getting low earlier this week, Acting Public Works Manager Eric Deike said he expected an order in soon and wasn't concerned.

Jefferson County's salt supply should be OK as long as there isn't a major snowstorm, said Jerry Grove, county highway administrator.

"If it keeps snowing and the temperature stays where it is, it could be a problem down the road," Grove said.

The county has about 400 tons of salt left, an amount that typically could be used with one snowstorm, Grove said. The county used about 350 tons during the last snowstorm.

Grove was expecting a shipment of salt this week that would put the county in better shape.

The county's primary and main secondary roads are clear, but crews were still occasionally spreading a salt and fine stone mixture on icy spots on some local roads, Grove said.

Highway officials in Berkeley and Morgan counties also said they were in good shape for now.

Bud Donaldson, highway administrator for Berkeley County, said he has enough salt for two storms.

The problem arose from a Dec. 12 accident at the Louisiana mine.

The head frame, a large piece of equipment used to pull out salt and lower equipment into the mine, collapsed, Briggs said.

Crews had left the area just minutes earlier so no one was hurt, Briggs said.

The mine's manager salvaged enough parts to set up a rig, allowing workers to pull out a limited amount of salt, Briggs said.

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