posted on February 27, 2014 16:28
It’s a story that’s made nationwide headlines: the lack of salt to treat roads to keep drivers safe. But even in the Town of LeRoy, with a salt mining facility just 30 minutes away, salting the roads has been a challenge this winter season.
“This year, winter came the third week of November and never really left,” John Arneth, Town of LeRoy Highway Superintendent, said.
He says the Town has been dealing with a shortage since about late-December. Even going in with a good supply from last year’s leftovers and a Fall replenishment wasn’t enough.
“When I went to resupply our department in December, even back then they (American Rock Salt in Livingston County) were very, very busy and almost behind,” Arneth said.
The Groveland company is the country’s largest salt mine, capable of producing 18,000 tons each day, but demand has overpowered supply this winter. The company did not grant an interview but told WBTA in statement that it’s been mining 24/7 to meet needs.
Arneth, in his sixth year as Highway Superintendent, says this winter has had a trickle-down effect on the department.
“We’ve had just that consistent weather pattern of continuing precipitation which just continues ot escalate costs,” Arneth said.
Arneth says his budget is in a good place and that mild winters allow funds and resources to be carried over from season to season, but overtime costs, fuel demands and toll on equipment have all been issues for the department this year.
The shortage has also affected how roads are treated. Crews have had to put down salt mixed with sand to get more traction on the roads.
“Not knowing if those salt orders will be fulfilled completely, I need to keep some salt in case we do have a freezing rain condition where I really have to use a lot of salt or an ice storm," he said. "I try to keep some on hand for that, so we had to implement a policy where we were just going to salt hills, curves and intersections.
It’s not how the department would ideally like to go about things, but Arneth says they’ll keep ordering salt and hoping for as little precipitation as possible.