Whitehall News

City's low-salt diet ends with new order

Whitehall plows through arctic blast with just enough leftover road salt from 2013's supplies

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Joe Woodruff clears the driveway and sidewalks around Holy Spirit Catholic Church and School in Whitehall around noon Friday, Jan. 3. Woodruff, who works in the maintenance department for Holy Spirit, said he had to plow four times that day to keep up with the relentless snowfall. The city, too, has had trouble keeping up with the snow and ice as its salt supply dwindled this week.

Whitehall was required to use road salt sparingly during the first week of January, depleting the last of its reserves from last year's salt purchases and even borrowing from Franklin County.

"We've been out nine times so far this season (dating back to November), and that is unusual," Whitehall Service Director Ray Ogden said Monday, Jan. 6.

As of Jan. 6, the city had about 60 tons of salt on hand, having used 100 tons of salt between 1 and 5 a.m. that day, Ogden said, to treat wet roads that quickly froze as an arctic front plummeted temperatures from the low 40s to below zero in about 24 hours.

Ogden said a 760-ton order was expected to be received by Wednesday, Jan. 8, and no further salt was expected to be used early this week.

"At these extremely cold temperatures, salt is not even effective, so there is no need to put it down," Ogden said.

The city used about 120 tons of salt Thursday, Jan. 2, to combat a four-inch snowfall.

Ogden said about 200 tons normally would be used in a four-inch accumulation, but the city needed to conserve until the year's first order could be placed.

"We used a little less than normal, so some of the side streets were probably not salted quite as well as usual," Ogden said.

The city used about 40 tons of salt to complete road treatments Friday, Jan. 3.

Whitehall borrowed six truckloads, or about 50 tons, from Franklin County, Ogden said, and ordered four loads, or about 125 tons, from a vendor in Cleveland to complete treatment and prepare for salting roads for the cold front earlier this week.

Upon receiving the 760-ton order, the city will return salt borrowed from Franklin County and should have a sufficient reserve for the remainder of the winter.

"But February is usually our worst month," Ogden added.

The new purchase order, about $47 per ton, is part of the city's 2014 budget.

Ogden reported about six water-main breaks occurred in the city during the first week of January.

Whitehall is responsible for road closures and salting frozen groundwater, but the city of Columbus provides water service to Whitehall and other suburbs, and therefore is responsible for the repair of broken water mains.

In response to the bitter cold and a power outage west of Beechwood Road, the city Jan. 6 opened the Whitehall Senior Center, 4924 Etna Road, as a heating center.