Counties Face Road Salt Shortage - WBAY

Counties Face Road Salt Shortage

Fond du Lac County -

As a particularly harsh winter stretches on county highway departments are being told to conserve road salt.

At this point, more than 80 percent of the state's supply has been used up.

Able to hold 64 thousand pounds of salt, a storage facility at the Fond du Lac County Highway Department has lots of empty space.

It's one example of how the state's struggling to keep up with the demands of a brutal winter.

"I mean what they're doing is they're trying to give everybody a little bit just to keep them going. Once it stops snowing everything will be fine and they can catch up again, but right now it's tight," said John Zettler, a Superintendent with the Fond du Lac County Highway Department. 

As a result the department of transportation has revised it's guidelines calling for a reduction of salt application rates on non-interstate routes, and allowing counties to use sand- salt mixes on lesser traveled roads.

Rose Phetteplace, with the Wisconsin Bureau of Highway Maintenance said, "We've actually had 60 percent more winter events this year than an average Wisconsin winter and that's been tough on the snow plow drivers, it's been tough on our equipment, but it's been especially tough on our salt supplies. We are actively managing the inventory levels around the state."

Normally the state uses up about 500 thousand tons of salt per season.

This year they've gone through 640 thousand tons.

While the DOT issued it's alert this week, many counties we spoke to have already been conserving. They also stress that major highways like 41, 441, and 10 are exempt from these changes.

Winnebago County Highway Commissioner Ernie Winters said,"We'll respond to slippery conditions which we always do, but in a normal storm when we can plow it off and just apply some salt we're going to try and stretch that salt supply a little."

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