Ahead of another winter wallop, the Vermont Agency of Transportation has just broken a record, secretary Joe Flynn said Wednesday.
Flynn told necn that VTrans crews across the state have applied 133,000 tons of salt this winter to state-managed roads.
“That’s the highest that we have recorded,” Flynn said, noting that the total salt usage for last winter was 130,000 tons.
Flynn said that spike in usage is due not just to snow, but also to ice events this season, and to multiple thawing and re-freezing cycles.
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Now facing another Nor’easter, VTrans said some town highway departments—especially in southern Vermont—are turning to the state to help them access rock salt. Flynn said the communities have told the agency their normal deliveries have been stretched thin lately.
Flynn said VTrans recently supplied 100 tons of rock salt to individual town and city garages in several southern Vermont communities to augment their stockpiles and help them get ready for the storm. They will reconcile the costs with the towns at the end of the season, Flynn added.
“The wintry weather that has hit the United States and the Northeast in particular is straining the supply chain,” Flynn said.
At the Barre Public Works Department, assistant director Steve Micheli also has salt on his mind.
“It’s a monetary stress,” Micheli said. “With all the storms we’ve had, we’ll be over budget for sure, on the salt.”
Micheli said the department has been able to make that $170,000 line item go farther by blending sand with salt, but with 48 miles of plow-able roads in the city, the salt has gone quickly this year.
“We have no choice but to buy extra salt, even if we’re over budget,” Micheli said in reference to the fact more snow or ice could certainly hit central Vermont before the season is over. “We’ll try to make it up elsewhere in the street department budget.”
VTrans said it plans to have a full fleet of 250 plow trucks out in this latest storm and during its aftermath, clearing the fresh snowfall.
“I won’t say that I’m free from snow until I know I can take my Harley out and have fun on it for the rest of the summer,” said VTrans plow operator Robert Whitcomb, who was smiling as he got into his plow to start his route Wednesday.