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City Worried Road Salt Supply Won’t Last Through the Winter

It’s that time of year again, and maybe a little sooner than we would’ve liked.

Winter weather has arrived in Rochester, along with the familiar cold, and snow, and ice. After last year’s brutal winter storms, highways departments are bracing themselves for the possibility that this year will be just as bad.

One particular concern is the supply of road salt. Last year’s winter completely depleted salt supplies across the state, and as a result, the average price of road salt has risen to $58 a ton, a 27% increase compared with last winter’s bulk-purchase prices.

In spite of that, many towns, cities, and villages are purchasing even more salt this year, to avoid the close calls they experienced last year.

“One more good storm and I would have been nervous,” said town of Greece Public Works Commissioner Kirk Morris of last year’s supply. “So this year we did order some more.” Greece’s salt order went from 11,000 tons last year to 15,000 this year — a 36% increase.

With the winter weather starting so soon, it likely means a very long winter season, as last year’s snowfall continued well into spring. This longer season means that the salt supply will have to be stretched in order to make it until the end of the snow and ice. Because of this, many towns and cities may choose to focus the salt mainly in trouble spots or more-traveled roads, in case of a shortage.

All this salt on the road for longer periods of time means that vehicles will be exposed to it longer. Road salt is extremely corrosive and can cause a great deal of damage to vehicles.

The biggest threat road salt poses to vehicles is rust, which is accelerated by repeated exposure to salt. Rust can create many different problems for the car, ranging from hydraulic break system leaks to subframe damage.

For this reason, many people choose to store any non-essential vehicles at an indoor storage facility, in order to avoid winter damage. For vehicles that do remain on the road, experts recommend that you keep your vehicle as clean as possible during the winter to avoid damage. Take advantage of a warmer day and take your vehicle through the car wash.

As the snow continues to fall, officials around Rochester will hold their breath in hopes that the salt will last them through the winter. Only time will tell.