State supplies of road salt dwindling

The Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) today announced that it will dip further into its dwindling road salt reserves to loan salt to municipalities for the remainder of the winter, which has been a particularly severe and has strained both state and local salt supplies. VTrans Secretary Neale Lunderville said all VTrans Maintenance Districts will loan salt to their regional municipalities until the Districts supply reaches 25 percent of capacity, which is less than a 48-hour supply. The Districts will curtail loans when this threshold is met, but will again loan salt once supplies can be replenished. VTrans divides the state into nine Maintenance Districts. Currently, two Districts are unable to loan salt because they have already reached the 25-percent threshold. To date, VTrans has loaned salt to more than 50 municipalities and two state colleges. Lunderville established the 25-percent threshold as a safety net in case Vermont is hit with a severe storm event. VTrans maintains more than 3,000 miles of road, including those that are both high volume and high speed. In case of severe weather, each region of the state needs at least 25 percent of its salt capacity on hand to keep state highways and Interstates safe, Lunderville said. We are always willing to help out towns when we can, but we have to be mindful the Interstate and State Highway system makes up the backbone of Vermonts transportation network and must be kept open and safe for travel. To free up as much salt for towns as possible, VTrans Districts will be more conservative with their application of salt. As a result, snow may accumulate on roads faster and remain on roads longer than motorists are accustomed to. We are asking motorists to be our safety partners and be aware that road conditions can be challenging, Lunderville said. Everyone needs to slow down and leave additional time for their trips as some road segments may experience less than ideal conditions both during and after a storm. When using salt, VTrans crews will place an emphasis on curves, steep hills, intersections and other areas where additional treatment is necessary Continuing winter storms throughout the Northeast and Midwest have left many states short on salt as demand is exceeding the private sectors ability to supply the deicing material. Vermont is receiving weekly shipments, but the nationwide shortage is causing distributors to deliver less salt than ordered. Towns in need of salt are encouraged to contact their local maintenance district. District administrators will assess all requests and distribute salt as they are able, balancing the amount they can loan each town with the overall need. We will not be able to fill a towns salt shed, Lunderville said. But hopefully we will be able to loan them enough that through prudent use will get them through the next storm.

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