Drivers warned of salt shortage

SALEM – Motorists in Salem are being asked to use extra caution in their travels while the street department tries to conserve salt due to supply delivery issues.

City Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst issued the warning Tuesday during his report to city council, explaining the crews will salt the intersections, hills, curves and any trouble spots as part of a conservation program aimed at stretching out the salt on hand until they can get a shipment.

“It’s a supply problem. They’re not delivering to us,” Kenst said, adding “it’s happening all over.”

Currently the city has about 350 tons of salt left, which is enough for six or seven more trips around the city, but they had ordered 600 tons and only received about half of the order from Morton Salt. He’s not sure what the problem is, but said streets foreman Jim Phillis has been on the phone daily asking when he can expect a salt delivery.

Kenst said the salt is purchased through a state purchasing program, so everybody’s been hit with the same problem. He said he heard surrounding communities are also having problems.

The city’s contract calls for 1,440 tons of salt and so far the city has received about 500 tons of that amount. He said finances aren’t the problem in this situation, saying the city has the

money to pay for the salt – the salt just isn’t getting here.

He wanted citizens to be aware and to slow down during bad weather. He said the city has an adequate supply for now, but not enough for the crews to do what they normally would do when salting.

In a related matter with the cold weather, Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart said residents need to be cautious and close off any windows in their basement to protect their water pipes from freezing. During the last cold spell, there were several frozen water lines that created problems for residents. Some businesses also experienced broken water pipes.

Kenst said the salt conservation program will continue until they can get some salt delivered.