Engineer believes county can survive road salt shortage

LISBON – Columbiana County Engineer Bert Dawson believes they have enough salt to deal with the snowstorm predicted for this weekend, but he could be in trouble if any more storms occur in quick succession before he is resupplied.

“We should be OK this weekend, but if we get another shot after that, who knows?” he said.

The salt shortage resulting from the unusually harsh winter has left communities and counties scrambling as their supplies ran low to the point where some are close to running out. Dawson said it has not gotten to that point yet with his department, but it could if they are unable to receive any more road salt.

The engineer’s office uses an average of 3,100 tons of road salt per winter, which is mixed with a grit material on a two-to-one ratio. The engineer’s office received an additional 950 tons last week, taking them over 4,000 tons for the season, with at least another five weeks of winter to go.

Dawson estimated over half of the 950 tons has been used to date, especially after Tuesday night’s storm. “We’re low, but if it keeps going the way it has been going there will be a lot of people in trouble,” he said.

The engineer’s office has ordered another 1,000 tons of salt, but Dawson is uncertain when that will arrive. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation is working on a plan to purchase an additional 150,000 tons of salt, which it would make available to local communities within two weeks..

“They’re trying to do something, but we don’t know yet,” he said of ODOT.

The National Weather Service reported that there have been 10 significant snowstorms in the state since Thanksgiving, and most Ohio cities have seen anywhere from 15 to 30 inches more snow than is normal at this point of the winter.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.