The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

November 18, 2008

Salt shortage not affecting state roads

State Division of Highway officials say there will not be a reduction in services this year due to shortages in road salt, but “conservation practices” will be used to ensure there’s enough to keep the highways safe for motorists.

One salt expert said Midwestern states who were pummeled by record snows last winter are to blame for shortages which have caused prices to triple.

Currently all of the salt sheds in West Virginia are full, according to DOH spokesman Brent Walker, and the state is “well prepared” to tackle the onslaught of wintry weather.

“We have stockpiled enough stock for a normal winter based on historical data,” Walker said. “And we have the experience of several years of data behind us. We have every reason to believe it will be a normal winter.”

To help spread the salt more efficiently, several methods will be used, Walker said.

“We will be using some conservation methods such as calibrating our salt trucks more efficiently to keep more salt in the roads,” Walker said. “And we are also looking at ways to enhance the salt by adding a calcium chloride, brine solution, cinders and sand.

“These are all effective methods to use and we are better off than most states. Our first line of defense is salt and we will hit interstates first and major routes. Our mission is to make sure West Virginia roads are safe for the traveling public.”

But if Old Man Winter has more to shell out than what’s been predicted, salt shortages could pose a problem.

The price of salt has nearly tripled since last year, Walker said, from $45 per ton to $120 per ton. Although all the salt sheds are full, some highway districts have had trouble getting extra loads of salt.

“This has never happened before. Twice we have had six out of 10 highway districts who did not receive any bids for salt,” Walker said. “The companies were not able to fill the orders.”

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