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Storms rage while road salt remains scarce

Storms rage while road salt remains scarce

(Cleveland) - Counties across Ohio are running low on salt supplies due to all the winter storms we've seen so far this season.

"There has been a couple of counties that have called me and said 'hey, if we don't get what we're promised we will be out of salt by the next storm,'" said Frederick Pausch, executive director of the County Engineers Association of Ohio.

He says many counties have been mixing sand and grit to try and conserve the salt supplies they do have.

"There have been different years that we have become pretty short, but I don't remember it ever being this bad," he said.

Even if counties are able to get an order in to salt companies, there's no guarantee that it will be delivered.

"It's kind of like take a number and wait your turn right now," he said.

If the salt is delivered it's running about twice as much to buy as it was back in the summer when many contracts were awarded.

The Ohio Department of Transportation is putting out bids for as much as an additional 210,000 tons of salt to share with cities and towns with diminishing supplies. It would be stockpiled at seven sites around the state.

"It is unprecedented for Ohio," ODOT director Jerry Wray told our news partners ABC 6.

The state usually stocks about 600,000 tons of salt, but so far ODOT has used 800,000 tons this winter and is approaching 1 million tons.

Wray says the difference between this winter and those of the past is that most of the storms that have hit Ohio have hit the entire state versus just targeting one part.

Buying extra salt won't be cheap. Basic supply and demand is in play and with salt supplies limited it means any additional salt will cost much more.

"I think we're going to be seeing higher prices and we will have to deal with that as best we can. It is not an option for us not to take care of the roads."

The salt will be dumped in seven strategic locations around the state so that hard-hit cities, towns and villages can replenish their own supplies. But, as Wray pointed out, they will have to share.

"We have to be careful that we don't allow one jurisdiction to take what might be more than their share and shut some jurisdictions out," he said.

ODOT officials said they hope the new order will be enough to at least last the next few weeks.

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