Leftover salt, less snow help Armstrong County fare better than neighbors
Advance planning, large supplies and conservative usage are reasons Armstrong County officials are giving for not suffering from the same salt shortages as neighboring counties during this year's harsh winter.
While neighboring counties are short on salt, communities around Armstrong County are still using leftovers from last year's light winter, making the shortage easier to handle, said James Mechling, Kittanning supervisor of Public Works.
“We had about 100 tons left over from last year,” Mechling said. “So while everybody was buying new supplies this year, I was still using last year's salt.”
Armstrong County — with a lower elevation than nearby counties — had less snowfall last year and required less salt for its roads.
“The higher the elevation, the colder the temperatures, which brings more precipitation,” Meteorologist Brad Rehak from the National Weather Service in Moon said. “Lower elevations, like Armstrong County, tend to see less snowfall.”
Mechling said the borough always attempts to order more salt than it needs, so it can be prepared for any amount of snowfall.
“This week, I ordered three truckloads to stay ahead of the game, but with people having such a hard time getting salt elsewhere, we might end up one load behind,” Mechling said Friday. “But so far, I haven't had any complaints about getting salt.”
Cory Angell, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, said his organization works with municipalities who run out of road salt.
They help municipalities borrow salt from PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Armstrong County communities have not had to borrow any PennDOT salt, said Andrew Firment of the agency's Kittanning office.
That isn't the case in other places in Western Pennsylvania. Hempfield last week declared an emergency disaster because of a critical shortage of road salt. The Westmoreland County township had to borrow 100 tons of salt from PennDOT to get by. Murrysville recently got so far behind in having salt delivered that it was forced to dilute what it had with anti-skid materials.
“We're always being pretty conservative with our salt, but this year has been a hard winter,” Ford City Secretary Lisa Bitner said. “We've needed more salt because of a longer winter — we're on our fourth or fifth load, and so far, this winter we've gotten more salt than all of last year combined.”
Ford City buys its salt from a private supplier by the truckload — a short bed, tri-axle truck, because a larger vehicle would not fit into the borough's garage.
Salt piles across the region are dwindling more rapidly than anticipated because of the repeated snowfalls this winter, and fresh supplies that make their way to the region by river and rail are held up by ice from stretches of subzero temperatures.
Deliveries have stalled because of frozen rivers, which has limited salt shipments from Canada. Some salt vendors haven't been able to mine, ship and deliver quickly enough to meet the demand.
“We have enough salt stockpiled to deal with several severe storms, so we always have enough on hand to cover the roads,” Firment said. “With the demand, we've had some trouble getting a few deliveries on time, but all of our orders have been filled completely.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Trib Total Media staff writers Bob Stiles and Richard Gazarik contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police: Escaped Armstrong County inmate armed, dangerous homicide suspect
- Paradise Park Rib Fest reviving legendary stage in Cowansville
- South Buffalo airport gets Armstrong County funding for study
- Kittanning road work a dusty backdrop to sidewalk sales, festival
- Armstrong reaches out for opinions about how to use closed schools
- Natural soaps, spinning demo among attractions at Fort Armstrong Folk Festival
- Rural Valley judge hanging up robes after 34 years on the bench
- West Kittanning church marks 100 years of ups and downs
- Worker injured when excavator backs over him in Kittanning
- 44th Folk Festival off to bustling start in Kittanning