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January 26, 2014

Salty situation: Road salt shipments hard to come by in Southern Indiana

Clark, Floyd officials waiting on shipments

NEW ALBANY — Frigid temperatures and an abundance of snow and ice have taken tolls on local streets and left highway departments scrambling to find more road salt.

The Floyd County and Clark County Highway Departments are both waiting on shipments to replenish their supplies, and state and private dealers are having trouble meeting the demand. The Indiana Department of Transportation — Southeast District is expected to receive a shipment today.

“We’re going on a different snow removal plan with salt because there is such a shortage,” Clark County Highway Superintendent Jim Ross said Friday.

Awaiting another snowfall Saturday morning, he predicted Clark County could treat roads for another two or three snow events based on the 300 tons of salt on hand.

Ross is awaiting a 200-ton shipment of road salt he believes will arrive this week, but added the market is unpredictable with so much cold weather having struck the region already this winter.

“We’re going to be pretty tight,” he said.

Floyd County is also waiting on a refill after having used about a quarter of its road salt supply this winter. The order was placed more than a month ago, as officials are concerned that current supplies will continue to dwindle.

“We’re using everything up for the whole year early in the season, and we still have quite a bit of the season to go,” Floyd Highway Superintendent Jeff Ramsey said.

He and Ross added that other highway departments in the area have contacted them in search of road salt.

As for state roads, “it is my understanding that we have adequate salt on hand to handle forecasted events,” said INDOT spokesman Harry Maginity.

Floyd and Clark counties purchase their supplies from different vendors. Floyd participates in the state program where communities buy in bulk, while Clark County accepts the low-bid from a private contractor.

Ross said Clark County elected to go with private companies because the state program requires buyers to purchase a bulk amount whether they need all of it or not.

Similar shortages occurred in Southern Indiana in 2008.

The freezing temperatures have also contributed to messy conditions in the area, as Ramsey said road salt isn’t as effective when the weather is as cold as it has been the past month.

The Floyd County Highway Department has tried to focus its attention on roads where buses frequently travel so that schools can remain open, he continued.

“It’s about the safety of the kids,” Ramsey said. “We’re doing basically what we’ve always done in a normal situation it’s just that we’ve been hit with multiple snows.”

Clark County Commissioner John Perkins said the highway department is doing the best it can under difficult circumstances.

“The problem is we’ve had two of these arctic blasts and more coming, and nobody could have forecasted how bad this cold snap was going to be,” Perkins said. “We just want to encourage everybody to continue to be careful on the roads.”

 

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Floyd Memorial Hospital and Health Services is pictured on Friday afternoon in New Albany. Floyd County is considering the idea of selling the hospital to help relieve some financial pressure.

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