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Road officials preparing for winter

Road officials preparing for winter


BY BRYAN PAINTER - The Oklahoman

Published: September 13, 2009

The other day I started thinking about ice storms.

I received a news release from a trade group called the Salt Institute. Last year they informed me of a possible shortage of road salt. This year, they informed me that the tons of road deicing salt sold had dipped from 12.2 million tons in 2008 to 9.3 million tons this year.

We are still technically in the season known as summer.

However, transportation officials don’t wait until the temperature drops to 32 degrees to plan for icy roads.

Oklahoma weather
There have been seven major storms bringing ice of more than an inch since the turn of the millennium, said Sid Sperry, director of public relations, communications and research at the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives in Oklahoma City. With those have come deaths, injuries and more than $1 billion in property damage, he added.

The most recent of those major storms came in January of this year.

However, Cole Hackett, a state Transportation Department spokesman, said overall it turned out to be a somewhat normal winter in terms of snow and ice for the Transportation Department.

"With the exception of the panhandle and far northwestern Oklahoma, last year was a fairly moderate year for our snow and ice operations,” he said. "Those sections of the state had a large storm which brought a great amount of snow. Last year, most of the materials used and operations were focused in one area of the state. Because of this, the statewide picture for last year’s snow and ice operations was that it was an average year.”

Looking ahead
"We had no problems with availability or price of salt this year,” Hackett said. "The bids were very competitive this year and we feel as though our supplies will keep us in great shape this year.”

Overall, the state will have 100,000 tons of salt and sand/salt mixture available this year.

Mike DeGiacomo, superintendent of streets, traffic and drainage maintenance for Oklahoma City, said they paid less this year.

He said a year ago they purchased "rock salt” for $67.47 per ton and the contract price is $63.00 per ton this year.

As far as storage, the city is at about 66 percent of capacity. DeGiacomo said they placed an order for 1,900 tons at the first of the year but have received only 400 tons.

"According to our supplier, there’s a problem at the mine and we haven’t received a shipment of salt since August 14,” he said. "This could become a supply issue and might ultimately affect the price per ton.”

Last year, the city used 3,185 tons of salt compared to 9,448 the previous year.

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