Johnstown Independent

Monroe Twp. monitoring salt supply


Monroe Township officials say they aren't about to become complacent over this weekend's unusually warm weather, especially when it comes to the township's salt supplies.

The two recent winter weather events dropped several inches of snow, and it's safe to assume a lot more winter is still to come this year, Monroe Township trustee Troy Hendren said.

Hendren said township residents have been asking him why some roads seemed clearer than others following December's snowfalls.

"We feel like we did the best job we could with what we had to work with," he said.

He said Monroe Township has state, county and township roads within its borders, and each entity is responsible to plow the roads under its jurisdiction.

From the township's perspective, Hendren said, Monroe has a limited amount of salt, and although last month's storms dumped plenty of snow, it's important to keep in mind that more snow is bound to arrive before the season's finished, he said.

Hendren said salt costs about $85 per ton and the township budgets roughly 200 tons for the year. He said the township has 21.99 road miles, and each mile costs about $1,000 per mile to salt. To plow its roads, the township has one 10-ton truck and two one-ton trucks.

"Crews worked all day and all night to plow the roads after the storms," Hendren said, adding that road crew members Bill Smith and John Sheeler do it all themselves.

Hendren said the township retains some auxiliary drivers to plow should Smith or Sheeler be incapacitated for whatever reason, but because Hendren has a commercial driver's license, he sometimes drives a plow himself.

He admits it's fun -- for a while.

"It's fun for about an hour," he said. "It's not easy; it's harder than it looks."

Hendren said the main challenge is in keeping the trucks out of ditches when it can be difficult to determine where the edge of the road is during heavy snowfall.

Snow isn't the township's only concern, though.

Hendren said he thinks the township's main challenge for the upcoming year would be in continuing to try to control the number of junk cars within the township and to convince residents to either get rid of them or shelter them out of view.

He said abandoned houses also are becoming an issue.

"We're getting complaints on that," he said, but he's not sure how much progress could be made on that issue this year.

Hendren said the trustees hope to have a Monroe Township website active this year, and the trustees are exploring the costs of a new, small salt bin.

Hendren said he expects the Woodhaven Road project to be completed by June 1. Last year, the township received federal Issue 1 grant money for improvements to Woodhaven Road, between Clover Valley and Croton roads. The project includes widening the roadway and reconstructing culverts and ditches along that stretch.

He said the township received no grant money this year, though, and the township operates without a road levy.

The trustees would like to upgrade Green Mill and Downing roads, he said, but no time line has been established for those projects.

"I don't know what year that will happen," he said.