Upper Arlington News

UA cuts back on salt use due to shortage

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Facing a shortage of road salt from suppliers last week caused city officials to rethink how Upper Arlington streets are treated in bad weather.

City officials said they had cut back on the amount of salt being spread on many residential streets in order to address main roads that are more heavily traveled.

The move, according to Upper Arlington Public Services Director Darryl Hughes, was in response to "a little bit of a salt crisis" throughout the state.

He said he hoped the reduction of salt on residential and other secondary streets would be "very short-term."

"We did cut back a little bit on side streets to hold back a little (salt) for our main streets, just in case," Hughes told Upper Arlington City Council at a Jan. 21 conference session.

According to Hughes and Upper Arlington Public Services Manager Buddy Caplinger, the city is not alone in feeling the salt crunch.

Hughes said the Ohio Department of Transportation and "most of the communities" in central Ohio are facing the same problem.

However, Caplinger noted, it's not that Upper Arlington can't afford more salt, which it purchases from North American Salt in Cleveland.

"The issue with the salt crisis is the demand for salt being delivered," he said. "We have plenty budgeted for salt, but due to inclement weather in Cleveland, where our salt is being delivered from, our contractor has had many issues with barges colliding into each other.

"The river has been frozen and deliveries are not making it to land and not having safe passage of roadways to deliver from Cleveland.

"The high demand for salt in other surrounding communities has been affected, due to the use of their salt usage and slowed our process as well."

Last winter, Upper Arlington purchased 3,000 tons of salt at a cost of $192,240, and it used 2,800 tons, Caplinger said.

As of Jan. 27, the city had spent $200,000 on 3,000 tons of salt so far this winter, and it's already used 2,700 tons, he said.

Caplinger said the city has inquired with other suppliers, but has been shut out.

"We have spoken to all of the suppliers, and none of them are willing to supply salt to those entities they do not currently have under contract," he said. "They are only taking care of their existing customers.

"Many of the call centers are being bogged down with calls for purchase outside of contract and it simply will not happen," he said. "The companies are shipping from out of position as it is to try to fill the existing orders."

In the meantime, ice and snow removal efforts continue in Upper Arlington on a nearly daily basis.

While it has cut back on the amount of salt it's putting down on side streets, the city has been treating those streets with brine, which is water with a heavy salt concentration.

"At this point, we have been plowing and salting the mains, hills, curves and major intersections," Caplinger said. "For the residential streets, we have been applying brine only and giving the brine a chance to work and going back and plowing those residential streets.

"This, so far, has been very effective in clearing the residential streets.

"Our policy is to clear all streets with salt and plowing within a 24-hour period, curb to curb. We have still been able to effectively do so with the change in how we have been scaling back to salt with the delivery issue."

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