ODOT prepares roads for winter

ROAD DEPARTMENTS are poised to save money again this winter.

The state price for road salt has dropped to a level not seen for a decade. Sharing in those savings will be Belmont County. “This is good news,” Belmont County Engineer Fred Bennett said. “We haven’t had a price in the $30 range since the winter of 2003-04,” he said.

Bennett said that the per ton price in 2004 was just $36.44 per ton, “It just went spiraling up from there.”

Bennett explained that after a record high price of $65.65 per ton in 2009 to 2011 prices dropped significantly last winter. “The price went from $63.62 a ton to $46.00 per ton last winter.”

That results in savings for the county which contracts for 3,000 tons from the State of Ohio cooperative, “Under the terms of the contract we have to buy 80 percent of that 3,000 tons with an option to purchase the other 20 percent at the bid price.”

The cooperative bid price announced by the state will be $27.50 per ton.

The actual price paid will vary from county-to-county depending on location,” Bennett added. “There is a delivery charge for the salt which is added onto the price of the state bid.”

Bennett said that Belmont County has been purchasing their salt through the cooperative for the past 10 years. Last year the state used Cargill as their supplier but have switched to Morton which submitted the low bid this year.

If the county buys at the 3,000-ton level it did last year, “we’re looking at prices that are half what they were just two years ago,” he said.

Harrison County Engineer’s Office Business Service Officer Doug Crabtree said the bid price from Morton will be $46.50 per ton for his county for this winter, which is the same amount from last year.

Two years ago “was one of the lightest winters we’ve had in a while,” Crabtree said that last winter was about average for salt use.

Crabtree said the price cut could be due to several factors but speculated that the light winter after an extra heavy winter had also left the salt producers with large stockpiles of material.

Harrison County requests a supply of 1500 tons and Crabtree recalled just two winters where the county had exceeded that total in his 23 year tenure with the Engineer’s office.

“Typically they have been very good to work with and supplied us with whatever we have requested at the original bid price,” Crabtree stated.

Cities and townships that also buy under ODOT’s cooperative bid can look forward to similar savings. Crabtree said that his county also supplies salt for townships and villages at the same rate unless the county delivers.

Palmer may be reached at mpalmer@timesleaderonline.com