Shortage in salt supplies leave drivers concerned for the upcomi - KMOV.com

Shortage in salt supplies leave drivers concerned for the upcoming winter

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By Julie Denesha By Julie Denesha

ST. CHARLES COUNTY (KMOV.com) – Residents in St. Charles County are concerned about driving conditions in the upcoming winter season. The short salt supply from last year is carrying over,  and residents are looking for alternatives.

The St. Louis area received nearly 29 inches of snow last year. An average winter receives about 19 inches. St. Charles County paid extra for salt amid shortage last year. But this year, the cost has more than doubled, and municipals are paying $120 per ton if it is available. Several towns are part of a co-op that requested bids from salt supplies this past summer. Not a single company responded.

“That’s extremely unusual. It’s the first I know it’s happened,” said Tom Drabelle of O’Fallon.

But the amount of snow last year is not the only contributing factor for more salt. The frequency of snow fall plays a role. Last year, two to four inches of snow called for salt in order to keep the roads safe.

“We ended up having almost double the events last year as a typical year,” said Daryl Hampel, St. Charles Street Superintendent.

While municipals are still in search for salt, there is a likelihood alternatives like sand or coal aggregate will need to be used. Elsberry in Lincoln County is considering cinders which is free from the Meramec Power Plant in Oakville. It would cost the city $12 per ton to transport. However, cinders only provide traction and does not melt the snow and ice.

“It’s an option if you don’t have a choice, but it’s not the preferred option,” said a spokesperson from Lincoln County.

Most of the salt in the U.S. comes from mines in Mississippi and Louisiana. But after Hurricane Katrina, most of those mines are not functioning to full capacity, thus leading to the salt shortage experienced in the Midwest.

Currently, salt suppliers are filling orders for northern states because they need to get supplies up the river before waterways freeze. Additionally, suppliers are filling larger orders, leaving the smaller municipals to wait if there is a supply.

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