County’s salt supply tight but manageable

NEW MANCHESTER – A snowy, cold winter has been taking its toll on Hancock County’s supply of road salt, and Wednesday’s snowfall did not help matters.

Northern parts of the county received between 8 and 10 inches of snow, said Hancock County Highway Administrator Jim Witherow.

“We presently have enough (salt), but we’re not completely replenished to where we want to be,” he said. “I’m in constant contact with our vendors, so we’re trying to conserve.”

Of the 1,300 tons of salt the county started out with in November, about 350 tons remain, Witherow said. Of the 1,000 tons of cinders, about 600 tons are left.

Witherow said one truck broke down in the course of treating roads on Wednesday, so other crew members had to pick up the slack.

Crews also are using a brine mixture that enhances the effectiveness of salt if it is applied before the accumulation of snow, he said.

Unlike Ohio and Pennsylvania, where counties and townships maintain their own roads, the task of snow removal in West Virginia falls primarily on city street departments and the state Department of Transportation’s Division of Highways.

In Hancock County, the snow-removal fleet is maintained at the Division of Highways’ garage on state Route 8, which also is used for road salt storage. The fleet is responsible for snow removal on all state routes and county roads in Hancock County’s unincorporated areas, as well as state routes running through the cities of Chester, New Cumberland and Weirton.

“For the first loads on the main highways, we use straight salt. Each storm’s a bit different. If we determine that it’s needed, we mix cinders in just for traction,” he said.

The garage’s fleet of two tandem trucks, four single-axle trucks and two one-ton trucks handles the main highways (Routes 2, 8 and 30) first, followed by secondary roads, which get a 50/50 mix, and chip-and-seal roads, which get straight cinders, Witherow said.