Written by Kelly Kaczala
February 11, 2014
The freezing temperatures and frequent snowstorms this winter have left Northwood short of road salt.
“We’re basically running day to day,” said Northwood City Administrator Bob Anderson.
“I think we’ve got enough to cover this storm and the next. But we’re going to have to scramble some more to have enough.”
Northwood and Oregon, as do many communities, piggyback onto Toledo’s contract with a salt supplier.
“We all bid it together. However, we all put in for a certain amount. Once you reach that quote, you try to get more, but if there’s great demand, you might not be able to get what you want. So it’s tight right now. We’re down to one more snowfall,” said Anderson.
Currently, the city relies on plowing and only salts the intersections.
“Right now, we’re plowing and scraping all the roads. We don’t put a whole lot of salt on the main roads right now. It depends on the condition of the roads. If the main roads are icy, we’ll put salt down. However, if it’s just packed snow, we’re not putting it down. Typically we do, and salt the subdivisions, too. We’re not doing that anymore. We’re tightening up. As long as it remains packed snow, it’s not too much of a problem. We scrape them pretty good. That’s where getting cars off the streets really, really helps. The plows sometimes go into the subdivisions and have all these obstacles they have to get around. If there’s a car that a plow has to go around, it’s only rational to ticket that car. We’re ticketing them and we’re talking about towing them,” he said.
The Ohio Department of Transportation is trying to help entities with more road salt, he added. The city has also been able to get it from smaller private contractors.
“We’re looking for different sources,” said Anderson, including the City of Oregon, which has offered to sell some from their own stockpile.
“It’s very nice of them. Obviously, Oregon is going to have to take care of their own roads, first,” he said.
Martin Wineland, superintendent of streets in Oregon, said the city “is doing ok on salt.”
“If things continue like they are, we should, with our current state of usage, be ok,” he said.
Oregon typically contracts for 6,000 tons of salt annually, he said.
“This year, we started out with 11,000 tons. We were able to not use as much the last couple of years, so our stockpile grew a little bit,” said Wineland. The city leases dock space on the Maumee River, where the salt is brought in by ship.
Oregon salts the roads once a storm has passed.
“Our policy changed numerous years ago when everyone ran out of salt. “We don’t put any salt down other than at intersections until the storm is completed. Once we’re in the cleanup mode after the storm has left, then we’ll salt city roads. When we go through the subdivisions, we will only salt intersections and the entrance and exits of the streets. Very seldom do the side streets get salted,” he said.
The condition of the streets, as a result of the freeze and thaw cycles, will become more apparent once the snow melts.
“We’re going to have a lot of patching to do,” said Anderson of the numerous potholes marking the roads.
“We won’t see a whole lot of problems until the winter is over,” said Wineland, “then we’ll find out what the damage is to the base of the road and how much heaving we got from the frost. Those things will start to appear in the spring when the frost leaves the pavement.”