It seems to many Ohioans that this winter will never end. But to the state’s transportation department, long winters often come with a high price tag. In an interview with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles, Steve Faulkner with the Ohio Department of Transportation explains the state is going through a lot of road salt this year.
FAULKNER: "One of the ways we look at how this winter has gone so far is by the amount of salt we’ve used. So looking just through this past week, the amount of salt we’ve used in Ohio for snow and ice removal, is about 670,000 tons of salt. That’s a lot. Compare that to last year...we used about 368,000 tons of salt in the state of Ohio. So last year was kind of an anomaly in the sense that the winter wasn’t as bad as it had been traditionally in the past. And this winter is more in line with what we’ve seen historically.
INGLES: "What about the cost of all of that salt?"
FAULKNER: "Well actually, as far as cost goes, ODOT is actually spending less per ton of salt. And that’s because the salt contracts are negotiated annually. Take into consideration that last year for insantce, we used less salt. So from a strictly supply and demand factor, there was more on hand. So we were able to negotiate a little lower price per ton of salt. As far as what we have available to us right now, like I said we’ve used about 670,000 tons of salt so far this winter. We have about 300,000 tons available to use for the remainder of the winter -- which could go through sometime in mid April."
INGLES: "So we could have snow every day from now until mid April and there would be enough salt to handle that?"
FAULKNER: "I believe there would be, yeah."
INGLES: "Well let’s hope we don’t."
FAULKNER: "Let’s hope we don’t. But you know as well as I do that Ohio winters are a little erratic, perhaps. And we’ve seen significant snowfalls as late as April. So we're not completely out of the woods yet and we are going to plan like we have more snow to come."
Faulkner says the state has spent almost $74 million on salt so far this winter. Compare that to the previous winter, when about $44 million was spent.