Grove City Record

Triple-whammy winter tough on city's crew

City tripled its costs in salt, overtime and fuel trying to keep roads clear

By

The winter of 2013-14 has officially ended, and it's one to be remembered.

"This (winter) was a record breaker in a number of categories," Grove City Public Service Director Les Spring said. "It was tough."

Spring said the amount of money the city spent on salt, fuel and overtime this winter was about $367,279. Those costs are normally between $120,000 and $125,000.

In all, the city dumped about 4,435 tons of salt on the roads, an amount Spring said is about three times what the city usually uses during a normal winter cycle. Not helping was a salt shortage that impacted many municipalities, including Grove City, which drove up how much the city paid for salt.

"Our last 1,000 tons was at $87.75 per ton," Spring said. "Our normal cost is $54.58."

During the shortage, Grove City borrowed seven truckloads of salt from Jackson Township and another seven truckloads from the Ohio Department of Transportation, repaying them when a new shipment arrived.

"We were very grateful to both our partners," Spring said.

Apart from the extreme nature of the weather and the demand, Spring said things went about as well as they could during such a bad winter.

"All of our equipment held up well," he said. "There were some minor breakdowns, but no major accidents or injuries."

Grove City buys its salt as part of a bid process through ODOT. To prepare for next winter, Spring said ODOT is planning two bids, a summer bid to refill empty bins ahead of the season and a winter bid, with the idea of getting lower salt prices.

"We're hopeful," he said.

Prior to Tuesday's predicted snowfall, Spring said the city was sitting on between 400 and 500 tons of salt and planned to order 1,000 tons with the summer bid plus an additional 1,000 over the course of the winter. The challenge, he said, is cities have to take 90 percent of the salt they order, even if it's ultimately not needed, and Grove City's bin stores 1,800 tons.

"It's a big problem if you can't store it," Spring said.

In addition, Spring said the city will be placing new signs on snow routes.

When the city declares a snow emergency, drivers aren't allowed to park on identified snow routes, an offense that can result in a ticket or getting towed.

In spite of that, Spring said the number of vehicles parked on those routes this winter proved to be a big problem.

"(The snow routes) have been well established, but they're not well marked," he said. "That's our fault for not having better signage."

Spring said the service department also is examining other steps it can take to improve responses in future winters.

"We're considering any and all options to try to save money," he said. "Our best option is Mother Nature."

Comments