Storms leave municipalities low on salt; budgets busted

Storms leave municipalities low on salt; budgets busted

UNION TWP., Pa. - Many municipalities across the region are being hit hard by a wild winter that has brought back-to-back storms.

Snow budgets are busted, the salt supply is running low and road crews cannot catch a break.

In Union Twp., Berks Co., crews have pulled 15- to 20-hour days, which racked up overtime and left their salt budget in the red.

"We're probably going to be 200 to 250 percent over, and that's hoping we don't have a lot of storms here on out to March," said Nelson Ott, road master in Union Township.

This miserable and hectic winter has also turned costly in Greenwich Township, and the money is running out.

"We normally have a $25,000 budget for salt and anti skid, and for this year right now we're over $55,000," said Harry Hoppes, a supervisor for Greenwich Township's roads department.

Back-to-back storms have depleted salt piles. Berks had already been dealing with a bad batch full of clumps and debris. Now crews are almost out of ammunition.

"We're waiting. If we get another storm, that will take it out. That will clean us out and we won't have any salt," said Ott.

Orders have been placed, but the companies can't supply it fast enough. PennDOT officials said they're not at a dangerously low level, but they're not where they want to be.

Union Township is down to about 25 percent, and Greenwich Township has only 50 tons of salt left. They're at their limit, and if they run out, they will be forced to find another way to keep the roads clear.

"Then we just put plain anti-skid down. That's the only thing we can do," said Hoppes.

According to the townships, whatever extra they spend this winter will have to come from somewhere, most likely road projects and repairs over the summer.

Also, crews are clearing intersections and hauling away snow because there is nowhere else to put it. All of this is with possibly more snow on the way.

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