Road salt prices spike after wicked winter

The salt garage at a Kent County Road Commission complex. (file photo)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Last year’s record-breaking winter will have a significant impact on the cost for road salt this coming winter, Kent County officials say.

“We expected to see some kind of an increase. We were hoping for something much smaller than 20 plus percent,” said Jerry Byrne with the Kent County Road Commission.

During the 2013-2014 winter, the Kent County Road Commission used more than 57,000 tons of salt on the roads. It cost more than $44 per ton.

This year, salt is running more than $66 a ton.

If the county uses as much salt as it did last winter, it will see an increase in its winter maintenance costs of nearly $700,000.

“If we have to spend that, we’re going to spend it in winter. We’ll do everything we can to conserve, put it down at the right temperature, make sure it’s spread at the right rates — but ultimately, we’re going to spend that money during winter if we have to,” Byrne said. “So what that means for a bottom line budget is when the money comes out of there, less money is available for summertime repairs.”

A salt supply company told 24 Hour News 8 the increase is all about supply and demand. After last winter, there was not much supply left and the demand for salt is now high. That leads to higher prices.

“There are only a certain number, limited number of suppliers,” Byrne said. “So do you feel like you’re kind of getting gouged? If I go to the store and pay 22% more, I’m not liking it. Gouged; I don’t know if I would use that word, but we are certainly paying top dollars for it.”

Byrne also said the road commission is gearing up for increases in the summer, too. An asphalt supply company told him that the costs of asphalt are expected to go up more than 5% next summer.

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