With frost on the pumpkin in many areas in the past couple weeks and freezing rain arriving overnight Nov. 13, the city of Reynoldsburg was ready with salt supplies to deal with icy streets.
Service director Bill Sampson said the city prepares for winter well before late fall. City officials signed a contract in late spring with the Ohio Department of Transportation to purchase road salt through an ODOT consortium.
Prices are up, however, compared to last year.
"The city bid for 1,750 tons, with the price per ton at $70.41," he said. "The price per ton in the 2017-2018 contract was $46.37."
The severity of the winter determines salt usage, but Sampson said Reynoldsburg, on average, goes through about 1,600 tons per year.
"The city currently has 1,887 tons on hand for the upcoming winter season," he said. "We can house 2,100 tons in our salt barn."
ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning said the consortium allows cities such as Reynoldsburg to request a certain amount of salt early in the year, then ODOT invites salt companies to submit bids.
"The cities tell us how much they need and once we get all that information, the bids come in and we accept the lowest bid," Bruning said. "The cities do not get the salt from us -- they get it directly from the supplier."
He said the consortium allows municipalities to leverage ODOT's buying power – but that doesn't mean cities will get the lowest price.
"Sometimes we get a better deal, but sometimes we don't," he said. "A lot depends on the area and whether we receive multiple bids or only one or two bids for that county or area."
Bruning said ODOT has 610,000 tons of salt on hand, with 565,000 tons on order. However, the agency used more than 900,000 tons of salt last year.
"We had a pretty rough winter last year, mostly in frequency of the snowfall days," he said. "For example, we would use way more salt with 12 days of one-inch snowfalls then one day of a foot of snow."
He said last year's busy winter may have helped to drive salt prices up.
"The 900,000 tons we used last winter was the second-highest amount we've used in a decade," Bruning said. "When you have that kind of demand, everyone has to put more salt in their barns, so we are chalking the increase mostly up to supply and demand."
According to information on the street department's web page, there are 112 miles of streets in Reynoldsburg.
"Public safety is of paramount importance to the city," Sampson said.
"It is our goal to provide for safe and efficient transportation, which includes snow plowing, salting and other necessary activities."
The city's snow-removal policy states: "When snow accumulation reaches 4 inches or more, the city salts and plows all streets. Less than 4 inches, the city only salts main and secondary streets, including steep-grade areas and dangerous curves. The city does not salt residential streets unless conditions necessitate action to maintain safety."
Sampson said Truro Township buys salt from the city of Reynoldsburg for snow removal on 3.625 miles of unincorporated roads in the township.
"They don't buy a lot and we sell it to them for what we pay for it," he said. "We have a team environment, so if they need assistance, they call us, and if we need assistance, we call them.
"When it comes to bad weather, we are all in this together," Sampson said.
Stan Knoderer, Truro Township's streets superintendent, said the township uses 40 to 50 tons of salt during an average winter. The township has one salt truck plus an older truck that can be used in a pinch, he said.
There are things drivers can do to keep safe during bad weather, Sampson said: Don't pull out in front of snowplow trucks and don't try to pass a plow truck on the right side. Drivers should also stay back at least 200 feet from trucks that are plowing or spreading salt, according to information on the city website, ci.reynoldsburg.oh.us.