Besides a major snowstorm Jan. 19, area road departments have had a pretty easy winter thus far.

While winter is far from over and the most recent snowstorm paired with brutally cold temperatures is perfect evidence that conditions can change quick.

The lack of snow has been beneficial to area road departments as many communities across the state were unable to get their complete order of salt and also saw a huge increase in price.

In Coventry Township, Road Superintendent Lael Stouffer said in early January the township had about 600 tons of salt on hand. He said the salt bin was loaded in early December and the township is in good shape for now.

He said the township will use five trucks for snow and ice removal this winter.

Stouffer said while November and December were mild, the township can eat up its salt supply fast if the area experiences a lot of snow in the months of January and February.

Patrick Dobbins, deputy director of public service for Summit County, said many communities in the county are part of the Community University Education (CUE) program and they bid on salt together. This year, however, Cargill Salt said it couldn’t provide the entire amount bid because of production issues.

“Any time there are production issues, prices are going to go up,” Dobbins said.

Some communities decided to ride it out and see if Cargill could provide the rest of the salt later on, and some decided to order from other companies at a higher rate.

The county decided to purchase approximately 8,000 tons from American Rock Salt from New York at $105 per ton. 

Dobbins said all the communities in the CUE are meeting to determine if there is a better situation moving forward. He said in the future CUE may try to get its bid out earlier.

Dobbins said the county is in good shape for now considering November and December were so mild. The county is planning to construct an additional salt barn soon, which will allow it to have more salt on hand.

The city of Green was able to fill its barns with 2,500 tons of salt at the old contract price of $48.47.

“The best new price is anywhere from $79.72 to $115 per ton; so we are going to do our best to avoid buying salt until a new contract is awarded,” Green Service Director Valerie Wax Carr said. “We think we can get through the season, but of course that is weather dependent.”

If salt does run low in Green, Wax Carr said the city will probably increase brine usage and add sand to the available salt.

When it comes to clearing the roads of snow and ice, Wax Carr said the city is emphasizing hills, curves and intersections.

“This year, we are not plowing curb to curb; that is the snow in the gutter pan area near the curb will not be pushed back,” Wax Carr said.

She said by doing this, it will create less of a windrow, which is the line or row of snow left, particularly in front of driveways, when the plow goes by. In addition, the city is hoping to avoid hitting mailboxes. The city is also focusing on doing more pre-wetting and using appropriately sized tricks to clear cul-de-sacs.

The city bought two new five-ton trucks in January 2018 and a new 10-ton tandem truck and a new one-ton dump truck are expected to arrive soon and be put immediately into service.

Lake Township will have two new one-ton pickup trucks with plows and v-box spreaders on them on the road this winter. Lake purchased 1,000 tons of salt for $90 per ton.

“We were able to acquire the balance of our salt commitment from the 2017-18 season and were very quick to react when we heard of the potential salt shortages for the 2018-19 season,” Lake Road Superintendent Daniel Kamerer said. “At this point, we feel good about our supply of salt; however, it all depends on what winter brings us. We are in regular contact with other entities and with contractors who play a role in snow/ice.”

Kamerer reminders drivers to be cautious of and courteous to plow drivers.

New Franklin City Council recently approved to purchase eight pre-wetting systems for all the city’s trucks. New Franklin Deputy Service Director Bryan Kepler said by doing pre-treating and mixing water with salt, it will cut down on man hours and the amount of salt being used. Last year, the city picked up 102 lane miles of road from Summit County as it ended a contract with the county for snow removal.

The Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 this year did not add any new equipment, but continued its program of retiring old vehicles from their fleet with new trucks.

Salt cost ODOT $55.83 per ton in Summit County where it can hold approximately 20,400 tons of salt. Last year, ODOT paid between $35 and $37 per ton.

“We have no concerns for a salt shortage this year,” Public Information Officer for ODOT District 4 Justin Chesnic said.

He reminds drivers to travel slowly during winter events and to give plow drivers room to operate their equipment.