County, state and city have ample supplies of salt for roads

January 18, 2011|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Bill Hudson, an employee at the Hagerstown Community College mail center, clears snow off a van Tuesday morning after a winter mix of precipitation covered the area overnight.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Washington County — State and local transportation officials said Tuesday that road crews are prepared with enough salt to attack the next winter storm that moves through Washington County.

Washington County Highway Director Ed Plank said he was expecting a 500-ton shipment of salt to arrive today in case another storm blankets the roadways with ice and snow.

"We'll be in pretty good shape," Plank said. "We're holding our own on salt."

Plank said Washington County road crews began salting roads at about 9 p.m. Monday to prepare for a storm that dropped roughly 1 1/2 inches of snow and ice. Crews were expected to stay out into this morning to finish clearing roads of snow from Monday's storm and anything that might follow.

He said the county had 38 dump trucks and 12 pickup trucks salting the roads. They didn't call in contracted workers because of budget constraints, he said.

Plank asked motorists to show patience as the understaffed work force clears main roadways before making its way to secondary streets.

"We're trying to keep everything in-house to cut costs," he said. "When we do it ourselves, it just takes a little more time."

Hagerstown Public Works Director Eric Deike said the city had an ample supply of salt.

"We're fine," he said. "We actually ordered 300 tons last week, and it started to arrive (Tuesday) morning."

Eight city dump trucks were out on the roads spreading salt by 11 p.m. Monday, Deike said. Although another storm was anticipated Tuesday night, he said road crews would be called in as needed because drivers were "whipped."

David Buck, spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said 23 state crews and 45 additional contractors were on local roadways clearing ice and snow Monday.

The state plows U.S. 40, Interstates 70 and 81, and state routes.

"We didn't have any particular issues in Washington County," he said. "We always want to err on the side of caution."

He said the state would keep several crews in reserve in case another storm hit Tuesday night or this morning.

Buck said the state has enough salt available to fight several storms.

"We could get a blizzard for two weeks and we would be fine," Buck said. "We are more than fine with salt."

Authorities across the region said Tuesday that no serious traffic accidents had been reported as of 8:30 a.m.

Only minor fender-benders were reported in Washington County, a Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher said.

State Police in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia said no accidents had been dispatched.

The snow emergency plan in Washington County was lifted at 9:15 a.m., Maryland State Police said.

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