September 20, 2014

Medina
Mostly cloudy
73°F

County’s salt supply holding out as polar blasts unleashed

Road workers  Matt Davis, of Doylestown, at left, and Gary Emmons, of Seville, stand in front of the huge pile of salt housed at the Medina County Engineer's Highway Facility, 6100 Wedgewood Road, in Lafayette Township.. DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE

Road workers Matt Davis, of Doylestown, at left, and Gary Emmons, of Seville, stand in front of the huge pile of salt housed at the Medina County Engineer’s Highway Facility, 6100 Wedgewood Road, in Lafayette Township. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

As winter storms continue to roll through, crews are using more salt than usual to keep roads passable.

“We’re running well ahead of last year,” Medina County Engineer Mike Salay said. “Most communities have used more than what they anticipated and more than what they’ve used past couple of seasons, and we still have two months to go.”

Salay said the county started the season with a stockpile of 7,000 tons, stored at the Highway Facility at 6100 Wedgewood Road, in Lafayette Township, and has only about half that amount remaining.

The Medina County Engineer stores the supply of road salt in a  huge pile inside a building at the Highway Facility, 6100 Wedgewood Road, in Lafayette Township.  DAVID KNOX / GAZETTE

The Medina County Engineer stores the supply of road salt in a huge pile inside a building at the Highway Facility, 6100 Wedgewood Road, in Lafayette Township. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY DAVID KNOX)

Despite the high usage, local officials said there was no danger of running out of salt so far this winter.

Salay said the county ordered its salt in advance through a state contract with Cargill in Cleveland.

Salay said that during storms like the one last weekend, the county went through several hundred tons.

“We get 200 tons per week, but we’re using more than that,” he said. “If we go out several different days and have 16 trucks carrying nine tons of salt, that’s 144 tons in a day right there.”

The county’s contract allows it to order extra salt up to 20 percent over its estimate. Beyond that, Salay said, the county will have to pay a premium price to keep salt on the roads.

The county pays $35 per ton, and Salay said any money used for extra salt is money the county can’t put toward other needs.

The Ohio Department of Transportation already is seeking a supplemental contract to purchase additional salt.

ODOT Region 3 spokeswoman Christine Myers said that while the state has used more salt than usual, it also is not worried about running out.

“From ODOT’S standpoint, we have plenty of salt and the ability to continue to get salt. We’re going to get the salt we need to keep the roads clear,” she said. “We can move funding around as we need to get the salt we need.”

Official in Medina County’s three cities also said they have enough salt on hand for at least one more major storm.

“We’re good for another storm or two and we’ve just placed a large order with Cargill,” Brunswick Service Director Pat McNamara said.

Wadsworth Service Director Chris Easton said the city has used about half of its normal amount for an entire season but its delivery schedule keeps the city stocked.

Medina’s service chief, Nino Piccoli, said the city already has used about 4,500 tons — 90 percent of what it contracted for.

He said the city has one full bin and three partially full bins, totaling about 800 tons in stock. He said the city is waiting on one delivery of 240 tons from a previous order and he has just placed another order for 600 tons.

Piccoli said the excessive use of salt this year means suppliers are having a hard time keeping up with the orders.

“Everybody uses it at once and everybody needs replenished at once, so the salt brokers are having trouble delivering to everyone,” he said.

Still, he said the city is better off than others.

“Some places are in a salt emergency because they’re so low,” he said.

The Cleveland suburb of Lakewood is in a state of emergency after its salt provider, Morton, failed to deliver 1,000 tons. According to the city’s website, officials have placed orders with other companies but are not a high priority because the city does not have a contract with those suppliers.

Piccoli said he feels comfortable right now and wouldn’t worry unless the city’s stock drops below 400 tons in the face of an oncoming snowstorm.

He said Medina road crews can use anywhere from 200 to 400 tons of salt during a snowstorm.

Officials say that when supply runs low, they prioritize how salt is applied, often salting only the most hazardous areas, like curves, intersections and hills.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.