Plenty of salt available for rest of winter season
Many area municipalities are on a reduced-salt diet this year.
Last year's mild winter left them with stockpiles of the rock salt they buy by the ton to spread on slippery roads, so they're purchasing less this year, which helps because the price is rising.
Unity Supervisor Mike O'Barto said it was nice to have a supply left over, but the 17-inch accumulation so far this winter has taken a bite out of the township's stockpile.
“We've had no problems with our supply. As a rule of thumb, we start out with 2,000 tons of salt annually, and we've had to buy some to replace what we've used with the recent weather,” he said.
Lou Gorski, director of the South Hills Council of Governments in Allegheny County, said salt prices climbed slightly from $55.83 per ton in 2012 to $57.04 per ton this year because of contract extensions and rising fuel prices.
SHACOG's purchasing alliance bid for rock salt for more than 100 Allegheny County municipalities and 12 communities in Butler County.
O'Barto welcomed the increase of only $2 per ton.
“The price hasn't been a problem at all. ... I can say that we are more than happy we had a week with this weather to melt the snow,” he said.
Last year's mild winter — part of the warmest year in U.S. history, the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. reported last week — left most municipalities with salt surpluses.
So officials ordered less rock salt for this year at the higher price.
John Shepherd, manager of North Huntingdon, said the township was fortunate to have leftovers from last winter.
“We have room in our storage shed for about 8,000 tons and I think we started out with 7,500 tons. We were in really good shape to begin with, and I don't think we've really used an extravagant amount at all — even with the recent storms — and are in really good shape supply-wise,” Shepherd said.
Mary Benko, manager of nearby Irwin, said the borough is well-stocked and has had no trouble getting supplied.
“We're contracted to purchase about 900 tons in a state cost-sharing program, so we really don't have any problems,” she said.
“We have about 9,000 tons (of salt) on hand, all bought at last year's prices,” said Joe Bonkowski, public works supervisor for Robinson. “We had to make up some temporary bins ... just to hold it.”
Regardless of whether it all gets used, public works departments must accept delivery of 60 percent to 80 percent of their initial orders, depending on how their contracts are written.
“We cut our order for this year from 8,000 tons to 4,000, and we'll still have to buy 3,000 tons no matter what,” Bonkowski said.
Some places, including Munhall, West Mifflin, Glassport and Ben Avon, ran out of storage space for 2012's salt order and had to pay the supplier an extra $5 per ton to store it for them.
“Many municipalities around the area found themselves contemplating the requirement to buy and no place to store,” Gorski said.
Mt. Lebanon built a surplus nearly large enough to cover a winter's worth of road treatment, said Public Works Director Tom Kelley.
Mt. Lebanon's salt dome and storage yard currently hold about 5,100 tons of salt after the municipality used 1,700 tons to treat the post-Christmas snowstorm, Kelley said.
He recently ordered about 1,000 tons. In a typical winter, the municipality uses about 6,500 tons of salt, he said.
The late-December storm reduced Cranberry's stockpile by about 1,000 tons, which should lower the cost of storing its excess, said public works director Jason Dailey. That's because the township must pay a contractor to cover its extra salt to protect it from the elements, he said.
Cranberry's order will shrink slightly from 4,500 tons of salt to 3,800, though new machinery to convert the dry salt to liquid brine may help workers stretch the supply further, he said.
Staff writer Paul Peirce contributed. Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Monessen lawyer disbarred by state disciplinary board
- Irwin Park ball field improvements could move forward
- Latrobe City Council OKs sale of Old Athletic Field for new elementary school
- Institutionalized Westmoreland man, 2 others, file suit, claim lack of programs
- Family of man accused of shooting St. Clair officer say allegations don’t fit his character
- Re-enactor commits to pioneer lifestyle in Murrysville cabin
- 40 years later, siblings of South Greensburg girl who disappeared still seek closure
- School lunch group hopes to revise rules it calls impractical, too restrictive
- Drones hover at top of holiday wish lists
- Indiana County school employee allegedly showed 2 students an inappropriate photo
- Western Pa. students bristle at changing menu choices