Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 11, 2014

Road department has plenty salt for remainder of winter

Somerset — The state’s salt supply for clearing highways during snowstorms has dwindled to dangerously low levels but District 8 in which Pulaski County is a part still has sufficient supplies unless late February and March are unusually snowy.

“As of yesterday (Monday) we still had 11,000 tons of salt in the (10-county) district,” said Amber Hale, the district’s public information officer. “Another shipment, not as large as we wanted, is coming in this week,” she revealed.

Pulaski County has had a brutally cold winter, but not as much snow as many other parts of the state, Hale pointed out. “We’ve only used 15,300 tons since the first snowfall back in December,” Hale noted.

In addition to salt, Hale said the district still has a sufficient supply of calcium chloride, used primarily to melt snow and ice when the temperature is well below freezing. It is most effective at temperatures between 20 and 32 degrees. In the teens and lower, neither salt nor calcium chloride is very effective.

“We are conserving salt,” said Hale. Salt is applied to routes with assigned priorities based on traffic volume, Top priority roads in Pulaski County include U.S. 27, Ky. 914, Cumberland Parkway and parts of Ky. 80, Hale noted.

 Somerset also has an adequate supply. A spokeswoman at the city Street and Sanitation Department said enough salt is on hand to get through the winter.

  Bill Joseph, county road supervisor, did not return a telephone call seeking information about the county’s salt supply.

  The salt supply situation is more serious statewide. A robust winter season and more precipitation expected in the coming weeks has Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) officials looking for ways to conserve salt as deliveries slow and materials run in short supply.

 With less than 150,000 tons of salt on hand and delivery becoming increasingly difficult, KYTC engineers are implementing strategies to stretch the remaining supply. When conditions permit, crews will rely more on plowing and less on treatment with salt and other materials.

 “We like to be aggressive about clearing our roadways,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. “But we also must be careful in our planning and judicious in our use of salt and other materials to ensure we don’t run out.”

 On average, the cabinet uses 200,000 to 250,000 tons of salt a year. To date this winter, KYTC crews have spread more than 300,000 tons. With most of the country experiencing an unusually harsh winter, shipments of salt have slowed and new supplies are hard to find.

 Salt reserves across Kentucky are dwindling. Even the state’s largest reserve, at the Louisville Mega Cavern, has been deeply tapped.

 KYTC began this winter with a 60,000-ton emergency reserve inside the Mega Cavern. The reserve is down to 26,000 tons and the 12 districts of the Department of Highways collectively have requested 18,000 tons of the reserve with which to replenish their supplies.

 The salt shortage also means the state is unable to fill all requests it receives from county and municipal governments for additional salt. KYTC’s top obligation is to the state highway system.

 

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