Upper Arlington News

UA buys more salt, braces for rest of winter


Recent snowstorms which swept through central Ohio following Christmas forced the city to use more than half its rock salt supply left over from last year.

The 2011-12 winter season proved to be a mild one, allowing Upper Arlington to carry over a 1,700-ton supply of salt to clear local roadways this winter without having to purchase additional reserves.

That lucky streak ran out, however, when the skies dumped heavy snow on the area via four storms from Christmas through New Year's Day.

According to Buddy Caplinger, Upper Arlington's public service manager, the city used approximately 1,000 tons of salt in response to the recent series of storms and finally had to order more.

"We actually ordered 1,000 more tons (Jan. 2) through our state contract," Caplinger said. "So, our barn is back at full capacity."

The city spent $60,820 -- $60.82 per ton -- to replenish its salt supply, which Caplinger said was "quite cheap" compared to salt costs in some previous years.

He also predicted Upper Arlington will have enough salt to get through the remainder of the winter, barring an abnormally snowy or icy season.

"Even through heavy storm seasons, we use about 3,000 tons a year," he said.

As a result of the recent storms, city crews worked approximately 44 hours -- including 28 hours of overtime -- to clear local roadways.

Those efforts included two 16-hour days, Caplinger said, as crews worked to plow city streets on Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

"The wind and ice weren't problems this time," he said. "It was just heavy, wet snow."

As of Jan. 3, overtime costs for snow removal hadn't been calculated.

However, Caplinger noted that the city maintains a policy in which Upper Arlington Public Service crews put down salt on curbs, roadways with hills and at intersections when snow or ice begins to form.

He added that crews plow once snow accumulation reaches three inches or more.

Overall, Caplinger said, the snow removal effort was successful and crews confronted minimal problems.

One exception, he acknowledged, was frustration by some residents who shoveled driveways or areas around vehicles parked on city streets, only to have plows drive past later and push the snow back up to the vehicles or those driveway entrances.

Caplinger extended apologies for those instances, but said it's an unfortunate -- and unavoidable -- byproduct of clearing the streets and ensuring storm sewer inlets aren't blocked.

"Our policy is that we plow from curb to curb," he said. "We need to make sure those storm inlets are clear so there's no flooding in the streets and we've got to get the streets clear."