Lake ice means salt shortage

SANDUSKY A shortage of road salt could create a slippery situation for the city. The
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



A shortage of road salt could create a slippery situation for the city.

The stockpile of salt at the Geo. Gradel dock has run out because freighters can't get through the lake ice, city traffic engineer Josh Snyder said.

The city is part of a countywide contract to get the best price from the Morton Salt Co. If picked up at the Gradel dock, the salt usually costs $37 per ton; delivered it is $42.06 per ton.

Typically city uses its own trucks to haul salt from the Gradel docks along Shoreline Drive to take advantage of the lower cost, Snyder said.

Unless local supplies can be replenished soon, salt will have to be trucked in from a Morton mine in Cleveland.

There will be a $5 per ton increase if the salt has to be trucked in, Snyder said.

The city still has between 300 and 400 tons remaining in storage.

"We will be using it sparingly," Snyder said.

During this week's storm, the city used about 143 tons of salt to make slick roads safer.

"The salt average per storm is usually twice that much, but due to limited supply we only salted sparingly," Art Straub, city traffic services foreman, wrote in an e-mail.

Snyder said the city will try to hold out for the freighter to deliver at Gradel, but will get salt from Cleveland if necessary.

At Tuesday night's Perkins Township trustee meeting, highway superintendent Daryel Sternberg said the township is facing the same salt dilemma.

There has been a countywide contract for salt for nearly three decades; in all that time, no salt has ever had to be trucked in from the Cleveland mines, said Anne Summers, purchasing coordinator for Erie County.

"There's no shortage (of salt); it just didn't come into the Gradel dock," Summers said. "Unfortunately, what's (at the dock) is it."

Salt of the earth

During this week's snow storm:

* The city's traffic services division plowed and salted 1,562 miles of roadway.

* About 22 loads of salt -- 143 tons -- were used to keep icy roads under control

* Each ton of salt covered about 11 miles; typically, one ton of salt will be used for every 5 miles

Information provided by Art Straub, city traffic services foreman