Oregon City Council on Monday will consider approving a bid to buy 5,500 tons of road salt at a much cheaper rate per ton than what the city was charged last year.
Three bids were received, according to Public Service Director Paul Roman. The lowest and best bid was Cargill Inc., of North Olmstead, Ohio, at $46.88 per ton.
“The bid is through the City of Toledo,” Roman said at a committee of the whole meeting May 4. “It allows for Lucas County and the City of Oregon to purchase salt through the contract.”
Cargill was the supplier of road salt for Oregon two years ago, at a price of $26 per ton.
Last year, Morton Salt submitted the only bid to Oregon and Lucas County at $67 per ton, he said.
“We are lucky that we have the option to have it delivered by boat,” said Roman. “We still have our lease agreement with Gradel along Front Street.”
The City of Sylvania was the first in the area to bid for road salt last year at a cost of $55 per ton, said Roman, compared to $65 per ton it will pay this year to the Ohio Department of Transportation through its statewide salt contract, to be delivered by truck to the city’s salt dome.
“I’m not too sure ODOT is going to get that much better,” said Roman. “It may. We elected not to go through ODOT because they have a clause that you have to buy a minimum. I really felt that’s unwise when you have the option of having it delivered by boat. And this price is a very good price.”
Roman said Administrator Ken Filipiak was close to the mark when he anticipated buying 6,000 tons at $50 per ton in this year’s budget.
“We’re well within that budget,” said Roman. “We did purchase 500 tons as an emergency this year to be safe. I’m glad we could do that. We still have that salt. It still leaves room for us to purchase close to 5,400 to 5,500 tons yet for this upcoming season. We feel we’ll be in good shape with that amount.”
Roman said the city presently has approximately 2,500 tons of salt.
Oregon uses an average of between 6,000 to 8,000 tons of salt annually.
“Two years ago, we went through close to 10,000 tons,’ said Roman. “Everyone depleted their supply, and that’s when the prices went up that following spring and summer. But we did cut back. We believe we used around just over 3,000 tons with our practice this year. So all the cities in northwest Ohio have learned to cut back on their salt.”
Ten years ago, Roman said the city purchased road salt for approximately $22 per ton.
Calcium Chloride solution, sprayed on the streets for de-icing, also helps in the winter, according to Superintendent of Streets Marty Wineland.
“Last year, I think we paid $1.65 per gallon,” said Wineland. “There will probably be some increase by fall, but I don’t know what that cost is right now. When the temperatures drop into the mid 20s, adding a liquid to it makes a big difference for us. When you’re up in the 30 degree range, there’s probably not a big benefit. Once we had those days below zero, we couldn’t clear the roads without the liquid.”
The city went through approximately 10,000 gallons of the solution during the winter, according to Wineland.
Roman said he attended a meeting at the Toledo Metropolitan Council of Governments to discuss issues with road salt. “Some communities have used beet juice. But the results are mixed. Some believed it worked pretty well, others didn’t believe it worked well. That’s another alternative people are using. Sometimes they’ll mix the beet juice with the liquid chloride as well,” said Roman.
Councilman James Seaman said he was a proponent of using sand because “it’s less caustic and more green.”
Wineland said the streets department mixes stone with salt for rural, non-curbed areas for better traction.
“In our curbed subdivisions, having that granular, whether it’s sand or stone, gets into our storm drainage system, which causes us more maintenance and ends up in our waterways, which makes it even more troublesome for us,” he said.
Low supplies of salt last year drove prices for most communities to more than $70 per ton. Oregon had decided to salt only major intersections, and relied on its snow plows for residential streets.
Conservation, combined with one snow fall in February and none in March allowed the city to have salt left over for next year, said Roman.
“We’ll pretty much keep the same practice, and I think that will be very alive for some time until these prices come down more. We definitely learned to save what we have,” said Roman.