Sunday, March 8, 2015

Salt supplies still in good shape, despite snowfall

See it online at ThisWeekNews.com

Sunday March 1, 2015 3:52 PM

The salt supply in Johnstown and surrounding areas appears to be in good shape thus far this winter.

Jack Liggett, Johnstown's service director, said more than 350 tons of salt have been used during the nine snow events in the village. Even having used that much salt, the village still has more than 300 tons of salt in storage, he said.

Glen Hacker, chief operator, told Village Council on Feb. 17 that the village's salt supply was replenished recently. Some of the salt on hand is leftover from last year.

Having enough salt is one factor, though, Liggett said. The other factor is in getting the manpower to distribute the salt.

"Sometimes, I'll have to ask my water-and-sewer plant operators to help plow the roads," he said. "I have guys plowing from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and then the plant operators finish the roads."

He said the village saves money by giving employees who plow compensatory time off instead of paying them overtime.

"It's like a vacation bank where they earn time that they can use later," Liggett said.

When a snow event begins, he said, the village sends one of its large snow plows to salt and plow the north side of town, starting with Edwards Road, and then works east to west.

The other large plow truck covers the south side and starts on Concord Road and Jersey Street, also working east to west.

Additionally, the village uses three pickup trucks with attached blades to plow cul-de-sacs and smaller roads.

Liggett said both plow trucks were inspected in October and are holding up well.

Ericka Pfeifer, spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation District 5, which serves Coshocton, Fairfield, Guernsey, Knox, Licking, Muskingum and Perry counties, said District 5 had used 40,606 tons of salt as of Feb. 4. At the same time last year, it had used 84,000 tons. As of Feb. 18, the amount used rose to 57,227 tons, she said.

"We are operating at 50 percent of our capacity, which is exactly where we want to be at this time of the year," she said.

The price of salt increased 49 percent from 2014, when it was $48.84 per ton, to $72.97 per ton in 2015, Pfeifer said.

"We knew that in 2015, there would be a price increase," she said. "Since we negotiated our salt contract last year, we were able to build the cost into our budget and allocate funds for enough salt."

A combination of salt and brine, a water and salt mixture, is used to melt ice, she said.

When the temperature drops below 20 degrees, she said, a calcium blend is added to the brine to help with the melting process.

ODOT focuses on plowing and salting interstates, highways and arterial routes first, Pfeifer said.

As of Feb. 18, more than 58,905 manhours were spent plowing or salting, according to Pfeifer.