Salt reserves in good standing across Osceola County
OSCEOLA COUNTY — Snow and ice have built up quickly in the area this winter, making local municipalities work a little harder to keep the roadways cleared and salted for the safety of drivers.
Entities across the county are sitting comfortably with the amount of salt necessary to get the job done.
The Osceola County Road Commission uses a mixture of two-thirds sand and one-third salt to provide traction as well as ice removal. Fifteen employees have the responsibility to travel along about 600 miles of county roads during the winter months, as the other 350 miles are season roads or maintained by the Michigan Department of Transportation. Road commission supplies are holding steady.
"We're not really concerned about running out of salt, but we are concerned we will use more salt this winter," said Osceola County Road Commission Manager Luke Houlton. "We're counting on the assistance of mother nature."
A harsher winter than last year, the road commission has used about 1,000 tons of salt since the first snow fell in 2013. During the same time period last year, only about 550 tons was used. It is difficult to predict how much the county will need each year due to the fluctuation of conditions during the recent winter seasons, Houlton added.
"I don't know what a normal winter is anymore," Houlton said.
So far, in Evart, things are on track as they should be.
"We're sitting at about normal," said Buck Vallad, Evart Department of Public Works director. "We store about 300 tons every year."
Evart has roughly 15 miles of road and many parking lots for DPW employees to plow and salt each winter. Salting too often can create additional ice if the snow melts and refreezes, so workers keep a thin layer of snow on the roadway to allow drivers some traction.
In Reed City, DPW stores about 350 tons each season to maintain about 24 miles of city roads. DPW Interim Supervisor Tom Plummer calculated on Monday the harsh winter has required about 140 tons of the city's salt reserves.
"We've been into it pretty heavily so far," Plummer said. "We're roughly halfway through, but I'm not worried about running out. We have salt left over from lighter years and we have a 50-ton reserve with the state if it's needed."
Reed City DPW workers also use a mixture of salt and sand when the temperatures are below 20 degrees. Only 50 tons of sand has been used, Plummer added.