Area road salt prices among Ohio’s cheapest

WARREN — The city is taking the guesswork out of next winter’s road salt order by joining Trumbull County’s consortium and getting an early price of $69.60 per ton.

While the price is higher than what the county paid last year at $57.71 per ton, it is lower than what the city paid, which was $82.43 per ton.

The price at which the county is purchasing its road salt for next winter still is among the lowest in the state, according to information provided by the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office. Only eight counties — Lake ($63.13), Ashtabula ($68.44), Geauga ($64.39), Sandusky ($69.38), Ottawa ($69.22), Lucas ($69.44), Putnam ($68.32) and Wood ($69.39) — have lower winter fill prices, according to a map provided by the Ohio Department of Transportation that shows the prices all 88 counties are paying.

Counties across the state are purchasing road salt primarily from five suppliers — Cargill, American, Detroit, Morton and Compass. Prices range from a low of $63.13 per ton in Lake County near Cleveland to $99.78 per ton in Monroe County in the southwest portion of the state.

Trumbull and Ashtabula counties are both in ODOT District 4. All six counties in District 4 are getting their salt from Morton, according to the ODOT map.

Trumbull County is purchasing salt for 36 communities and organizations, including Warren. The county consortium is purchasing 35,211.68 tons of salt. The county already has 12,000 tons in its salt bin, which only holds just over 13,000 tons, according to the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office.

Warren is buying through the county consortium for the first time. It has ordered 5,000 tons, which is the county’s second-largest order. Only the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office order of 14,800 tons is larger. Niles ordered 4,303 tons of salt.

When communities order road salt, they are bidding through the state without knowing what the eventual price will be.

Warren’s decision to join the consortium came a year after it experienced what was described as “sticker shock,” when its longtime supplier — Morton — not only increased the price of road salt from $48.52 per ton in the 2017-18 season to $82.43 in the 2018-19 winter season, but also limited the city to purchasing a maximum of 1,250 tons of salt for the entire season.

Safety Service Director Enzo Cantalamessa last fall said the city never had been limited to the amount of salt it could order. The city paid Morton $105,367.39 in 2019 for its salt purchase, Cantalamessa said.

To make sure it had enough to last through the remainder of the winter, the city purchased approximately 437 tons from AAA Salt Co. LLC at $101 per ton in March. The city paid AAA Salt Co., which is located in Poland, $44,210.73, according to city records.

“The price of $69.60 per ton is not cheap, but we are pleased,” Cantalamessa said of this year’s price.

The city decided to purchase 5,000 tons of salt for the first half of the next winter season because it no longer will be placing an ICM, also known as ice control mixture, with salt on the street. The city plans to place only salt on the roads, so it will have faster melting power.

One of the criticisms levied against the city last year was even when it plowed roads and placed salt on them, it did not seem the snow melted as quickly as in other communities. Cantalamessa said laying pure rock salt on the roads should eliminate that problem.

Using only salt, instead of a salt and ICM mixture, also should reduce the need for street sweeping at the end of the season, because the city will not have to remove aggregate from the ICM from the road, he said.

In addition to the larger salt order, Cantalamessa said the operations department will be using some plow trucks from the city’s water department to help clear roads next winter.

Councilman Ken MacPherson, D-5th Ward, a critic of the administration last winter, said he would have liked the 5,000 ton order split in half between the winter and spring orders that the county does every year.

“If you look at the county’s history, the spring fill order generally costs less than the fall fill order,” MacPherson said.

Council candidate Greg Greathouse, who argued the city should make some fundamental changes in its road-plowing program, said the decision to work with the county is a good first step.

“I am glad the city is being proactive,” he said. “This should take the guesswork out of providing road salt in the city. I also like the decision to use straight salt on the roads. We should move away from the use of gravel.”

Greathouse, however, said the city should go further and provide training for other employees to plow snow.