Salt supplies are running low for some Maine communities.
The town of China has only two truckloads of salt left, leaving workers only one option to treat roads that haven’t been used in five years to treat roads — using their sand supply.
“All the towns are running out of salt everywhere,” China Public Works Director Shawn Reed said.
This year’s winter storms are leaving roads covered in ice and snow for days on end. Public works departments are trained to handle these conditions, however, this year many towns in central Maine are using a new salt supplier — Morton Salt — that has had shipping delays and product shortages, making it difficult for them to get the job done.
“We’re just trying to stretch the salt as far as we can because we don’t know when the next load’s coming,” Reed said.
Morton Salt said it will “continue to re-supply inventory on the East Coast throughout the winter season, which is expected by the end of this week for our stockpile that services central Maine.”
Until then, crews are forced to use sand instead.
“We’ve been going straight sand, which gives you traction, but it doesn’t break up the ice,” Winslow Public Works Director Paul Fongemie said. “You need the salt.”
So far this winter, the town of Winslow used 1,400 tons of salt. That’s 400 more tons than this time last year.
“The last two winters were really mild, we’ve had a couple of easy winters,” Fongemie said. “This winter is a real winter.”
Winslow’s town manager, Erica Lacroix, said the town has already spent half of its snow and ice removal budget.
“Our responsibility is first to the health and safety of the public, and if we have to spend a little more money to ensure the public safety, we’re going to do that,” Lacroix said.
Town officials cautioned drivers to be careful on the roads because they are unable to salt them as much as they want to.