Only curves, intersections and hills will be salted on Mahoning County roads.
By BOB JACKSON
VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- When Richard Marsico says to hold the salt, he's not talking about seasoning.
It's road salt that the Mahoning County engineer is conserving these days, though he doesn't think cutting back will cause driving conditions to get spicy.
"I think we'll be OK for getting through the winter," Marsico said. "We just won't use as much as we used to. We're not going to do straightaways."
Marsico has instructed road crews to spread salt only on curves, hills and intersections of county roads until the end of winter.
He said crews have used more than 13,000 tons of road salt already this year, which is more than twice the amount used by the county all last winter.
"You just never know what you're going to be dealing with weatherwise when you order this stuff in the summer," Marsico said.
He said after last year's mild winter, the county had about one ton of salt left over for a head start on this year's supply.
Here's the situation
Marilyn Kenner, chief deputy engineer, said the county usually buys 8,000 tons of salt a year but has bought 12,750 so far this year.
The county has already used that up and has been scrambling to get more from its supplier, which has been difficult, Marsico said.
"It's not that they've cut us off, but they haven't gotten us as much as we wanted," Marsico said, noting that other counties and municipalities are in the same boat, so salt is in high demand.
The county has about 2,000 tons of salt available now and is trying to get more. Kenner said a 500-ton purchase has been approved and should be delivered soon.
Kenner said it hasn't been the volume of snow this winter, but the overall number of snowy days that caused salt use to increase.
"For every snow event, whether we get one inch or 10 inches, we have to put down the same amount of salt," Kenner said, noting that it generally takes about 500 tons to cover the county's 493 miles of road.
In rural areas, salt is mixed with a gravel and grit blend to improve traction. In urban areas, crews spread straight salt.
She said the dramatic increase in salt usage hasn't peppered the department's budget. The county has spent only slightly more this year for salt than it did last year, but has gotten nearly twice as much salt.
That's because after paying $40.65 a ton last year, the county decided to buy salt through the Ohio Department of Transportation this year, getting it for $29.06 a ton.
"That's a huge savings," Kenner said.