Some Towns Running Low on Road Salt

With the amount of snow and ice this winter, many municipalities in the Philadelphia area are facing massive shortages of road salt.

With another storm headed for Philadelphia this week, road crews are going to be out salting the roads again in the coming days. And Action News reports some Philadelphia-area towns are running low on road salt. The station says 13 communities in Chester County have salt shortages, while every community in Delco is suffering from shortages.

This is a problem that is getting worse: Last week, the Associated Press reported many municipalities have already borrowed from the state, including Philadelphia.

In an average winter, PennDOT goes through about 800,000 tons, but this year the department has been going through road salt more quickly than usual. By the end of January it had used 686,000 tons, compared with an average of 466,000 tons by the same time in previous years.

So far this season, PennDOT has lent salt to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Castle and the suburban Philadelphia community of Upper Gwynedd Township, as well as Pittsburgh International Airport. Local governments ship salt back to PennDOT once their own supplies have been replenished.

Action News reports, though, that PennDOT did not have enough salt for the Chester County communities. Meanwhile, in New Jersey, there is a statewide shortage of salt.

“We’re able to get 75 tons, but we’ve had to find private haulers to pick it up and deliver it to us,” [Southampton Township Manager Kathleen] Hoffman said. “And it takes 150 (tons) to salt the whole town. So we’re really able to do (only) curves, intersections and major roads.”

The situation is similarly dire in Willingboro, as the township continues to wait for a shipment of salt, said Rich Brevogel, the director of Public Works.

“We have enough material to complete one pass of our roads,” Brevogel said. “We’re in the same boat as everyone else. We’ve been told we’ll get a partial shipment this week…. There is no guarantee the material will arrive before the storm. We’re going to prepare like we won’t get it in time.”

If you want even more good news about the snow, I have some: This winter has cost the Philadelphia area tens of millions of dollars. PennDOT is operating at 85 percent of its budget already, CBS 3 reports, and is poised to break rock salt tonnage records (those marks, like NFL sack totals, only go back to the ’80s).

[6 ABC | AP/Daily Local | Burlington County Times | CBS 3]