A summary of snow states' road salt problems

AP News
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Posted: Sep 29, 2014 6:05 PM

Road salt was used in record amounts across the U.S. last winter, leaving supplies tight and costs high for local governments trying to prepare for this winter. Here's a look at some states facing the problem:

OHIO

Increased salt prices may have hit hardest in Ohio, where most counties are paying between 43 percent and 128 percent more for salt this year compared to last year. Some counties rejected bids that were too expensive or received none. The state is stepping in to try to help those counties by buying 170,000 additional tons of salt from an Indiana supplier.

INDIANA

Indiana's salt supplies also were hit hard last winter, and prices have jumped an average of 57 percent statewide compared to last year, with regional bids ranging from $72.59 per ton to $105.89. So far this year, the state has 142,000 tons of road salt on hand — but it used more than 437,000 tons last winter, and the five-year average is 352,000 tons annually.

MICHIGAN

Salt prices have increased an average 46 percent across Michigan, though toad officials in Washtenaw County — hit by record-breaking snow last year — is paying 120 percent more for salt this year. The county plans to employ tactics to make its salt distribution more efficient, including having salt trucks drive slower and pre-wetting the salt to prevent bounce and scatter.

NORTH CAROLINA

Most salt contracts have increased between 25 percent and 40 percent in North Carolina, which was hit hard by winter storms last season. The state has built two new salt storage facilities, and could build additional regional sites, and has been restocking its supplies since last spring.

NEW YORK

New York state is paying about 27 percent more for salt this year than it did last year. New York City buys its own salt, and has about 270,000 tons it purchased at last season's price. The city prefers to start the season with 300,000 tons, and will have to pay about 7 percent more per ton to make up the difference.

MASSACHUSETTS

Boston officials have already brought enough salt to fill 80 percent of the city's storage capacity at last season's prices. But the city is paying about 25 percent more per ton to top off its supply this winter. Statewide, the average price was about $52 per ton, and this season is about $71, representing a roughly 36 percent increase.

WISCONSIN

Officials in Wisconsin are paying about an average 14 percent more for salt this year. State highways official Todd Matheson said he knew the increase was coming but was grateful the state was able to secure salt for all of Wisconsin's 72 counties and hundreds of municipalities.

PENNSYLVANIA

The salt price increases Pennsylvania is reporting are a modest 8 percent to 9 percent. State transportation officials say they used about 1.2 million tons of road salt last winter, a 43 percent increase over the five-year average.

MINNESOTA

Minnesota communities are paying about 4 percent more on average this year for salt, which the state is crediting to securing prices in early spring before prices jumped. Some local governments are paying about 15 percent more, but most increases are more moderate.

ILLINOIS

Illinois officials say this season's prices range from $75 a ton to more than $130 per ton, up from last year's statewide average of about $55. Like other states, Illinois offered centralized purchasing to local governments, but many still didn't receive bids. Illinois says it's continuing to work with those communities by connecting them with vendors, and believes that those who need salt ultimately will be able to get it.

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Associated Press writers Charles D. Wilson in Indianapolis and Allen G. Breed in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.