November 13, 2008

Salt Prices Pinch States

Local governments that rely on salt to keep winter roads safe are being hit hard by rising prices, officials say. reported Wednesday that some cities and towns may be forced to make do with less. Salt prices are running up to three times higher than last year.

"We're just going to have to pay these prices," Maine Transportation Department spokesman Herb Thompson said. "This means we have to find resources elsewhere in our revenues and parts of other programs will have to be foregone."

Stateline reported Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio and Michigan sought to buy a total of nearly 2 million tons of road salt during the summer.

In Wisconsin, authorities used 50 percent more salt last winter than the winter before at a cost of more than $86 million, compared to an average of about $43 million in the previous five years, said David Vieth, director of the Bureau of Highway Operations.

Higher salt prices have forced some state and local governments to change their winter plans.

Wisconsin, for example, is changing the way it clears roadways, leaving salting as the last resort, Vieth said.