Last year's winter might be the reason for higher road salt prices this year.

This year salt prices throughout the state are higher by an average of about 66 percent, said Matt Bruning, an Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman.

The prices ebb and flow, he said, based on weather severity and last year's winter could be considered pretty severe.

ODOT spent $49.4 million on 955,483 tons of salt -- the highest in a decade, second only to the winter of 2013-14, when ODOT's salt usage topped 1 million tons, Bruning said.

In Dublin, the city has budgeted nearly $880,000 for street salt in 2019, a $263,700 increase over previous years, according to a Nov. 19 memo from City Manager Dana McDaniel about the city's 2019 budget.

Dublin typically budgets for the same quantities of salt from year to year, so the budget differences are based on the unit prices, said Dublin public affairs officer Lindsay Weisenauer.

"Salt prices are up this year compared to last year," she said.

Last winter, the city spent $543,890 on road salt, said Rob James, Dublin's director of streets and utilities operations.

To purchase road salt, the city participates in a statewide bid with ODOT, in which salt vendors submit bids for each county, James said, as well as the Southwest Ohio Purchasers for Government bid, in which salt vendors submit bids for various cities, counties and other government entities.

The amount of salt used annually can vary greatly from year to year, but the city's five-year salt average is about 7,500 tons per season, James said.

The city's two salt barns can hold 2,000 tons of salt each.

This winter season, ODOT has 610,000 tons of salt in its barns, and another 565,000 tons available to order based on need, Bruning said.

ODOT is responsible for salting and plowing all interstates throughout the state, as well as state and U.S. routes outside municipalities.

Workers typically try to pretreat roads with brine -- a solution of water and salt -- ahead of storms.

During and after storms, workers first address interstate highways and high-traffic state and U.S. routes, Bruning said.

Last year, snow plow trucks drove about 10.5 million miles, and workers spent over 1.1 million hours clearing roads, he said.

In Dublin, city crews remove snow on all public streets -- 623 lane miles, James said. Like ODOT, priority is based on traffic volumes and speeds.

"We do not base our response on the amount of snow on the ground," he said.

"Ideally, our crews are ready to go before snow begins to accumulate so that we start treating roadways immediately in order to minimize accumulation."

ssole@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSarah