Supplier late with getting road salt to Baldwin Borough

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

They planned correctly, ordered appropriately and yet Baldwin Borough leaders said they still ran out of salt this week.

Baldwin Borough leaders expressed frustrations at their meeting Tuesday night, saying they don't know what more they could have done to get salt to clear the municipality's nearly 90 miles of publicly maintained streets.

“From our perspective, we did everything just about right,” borough Manager John Barrett said as he described the municipality's predicament during the last six days of cold temperatures, snow and icy conditions.

The community of nearly 20,000 residents ran out of salt for nearly 24 hours earlier this week. A delivery of an estimated 100 tons arrived Wednesday morning at the borough building, and an order also arrived at Leland Center.

Officials, though, said they went into a “panic mode” for several days, when salt orders from supplier Cargill Inc. came to a halt.

The municipality buys its salt through the second largest contract in the state, a joint purchasing alliance through the South Hills Area Council of Governments. The contract with Cargill specifies a price of $57.52 per ton, unless the community orders more than 120 percent of its initial projected purchase for the year. Then, costs increase.

Baldwin leaders estimated they would need to buy 5,000 tons of salt in 2014, but they likely will need more than that this year, Barrett said.

On Feb. 3, the borough had about 500 tons left and leaders ordered 800 more tons. Before Wednesday morning, they had received only about half of that order.

On Saturday, a delivery of 45 tons arrived — salt that wouldn't even be enough for one trip around the borough, Barrett said. One clearing of the borough's streets, broken down into five “snow districts,” uses between 75 and 80 tons of salt, Barrett estimated.

Calls were made more than once daily to Cargill, Barrett said. They're waiting for answers, other than that barges were unable to pass on the rivers and supplies needed to be delivered through other means, he said.

Borough leaders looked elsewhere, to no avail, for salt or other products that would clean streets.

“We tried getting salt from other places. We tried getting cinders,” Mayor David Depretis said.

“We had some close calls,” Barrett said. “It caused us to be cautious with how we were applying salt on the roads.”

There were some “scary situations” and roads where the snowplows had to go down a steep street after hours of conserving salt, Barrett said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

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