Bethlehem faces rock salt shortages

Author: , Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published: Feb 06 2014 10:02:56 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 06 2014 10:48:33 PM EST
Bethlehem faces rock salt shortages
BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Bethlehem is having a shortage of rock salt.

City officials say they only have enough to get through one more winter storm, but they are making moves to stretch resources.

Leaders in Bethlehem say they have a crisis on their hands.

"We've been scrambling for weeks trying to get our salt supply back up where we're comfortable," shared Michael Alkhal, Director of Public Works.

He says they like to keep about 2,000 tons of salt on hand.

"We're far from that, we have less then a third of capacity."

That means the city stockpile has dwindled to around 650 tons. Icy roads are chewing up the salt supply faster than it can be replenished.

"I think we're comfortable going into one major storm," explained Alkhal. "If we have multiple storms without any down time in between I have some very serious concerns about that."

City officials say they are doing what they can to conserve the salt supply.

Crews are adding small, finely ground stones in with the salt and then that entire mixture is being sprayed with chemicals to help melt the ice quicker.

During an average winter, authorities say Bethlehem lays down about 3,300 tons of salt; so far this season crews have already burned through 5,000 or 6,000.

Alkhal says the ration of rock salt will hopefully hold the city over until a delivery comes in.

"We're doing our best to try and get salt here as soon as we can so we don't get ourselves in trouble."