Road salt suppliers pinched by demand

Snowy winter increases needs of towns, cities

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“Everybody in the country is clamoring for salt,” Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesman Kevin Nursick told the local Fox News affiliate. “It taxes the delivery systems that are in place.”

Lori Roman, president of the Alexandria-based Salt Institute, said, “This year there has been so many significant snow events that even the most prepared have found that they are running low on inventory.”

Some companies and agencies have taken lessons from past winter seasons.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has moved to cut waste with the use of ground speed controllers. The controller regulates the salt coming out of the spreader.

Michael Verseckes, MassDOT spokesman, said that 20 years ago, every lane-mile took 350 pounds of salt every snowstorm. Now, the new techniques cut that to 240 pounds.

Officials are also pre-wetting the salt with magnesium chloride to minimize the grains bouncing off the street and into the grass.

Hal Williams, manager of the Merrifield Garden Center in Northern Virginia, expanded his supplier network after his main supplier ran out of salt during one of the winter storms this season.

Mr. Williams and his staff took to the phones and heard, by chance, of a recent salt shipment.

“We’re customer-service-based, and if we run out of material, then we can’t service our customers,” he said.

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