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Salt prices to jump this winter

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 3:02 PM

And with that preparation comes the news that the price for road salt is on the rise.

“Obviously, when your prices go up 34 percent compared to last year, it’s not ideal,” Ottawa County Road Commission Operations Superintendent Ryan Kemppainen said.

According to Denise Donohue, director of the County Road Association of Michigan, the reason for the increase is a matter of supply and demand, especially after salt reserves were pounded last winter. The association said the average cost statewide for road salt will be up nearly 50 percent.

To place this price increase into perspective, if the Ottawa County Road Commission uses the same amount of salt on roads this coming winter as last winter, they’d spend an additional $550,000, Kemppainen said.

And if one puts stock into the winter weather predictions of the Farmers’ Almanac, road crews could do just that. The latest edition forecasts colder-than-normal and wetter-than-usual weather for three-quarters of the country east of the Rocky Mountains.

The publication uses a secret formula based on sunspots, planetary positions and lunar cycles for its long-range weather forecasts, but modern science doesn't put much stock in the formula.

“In our line of work, you plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Kemppainen said.

With more money spent on winter maintenance costs, it means there is less available for normal road re-surfacing, crack sealing and other maintenance projects in the spring and summer.

Kemppainen noted that the Ottawa County Road Commission typically begins to look at road salt purchases in September and usually takes delivery of the annual supply in November.

Read the complete story in Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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