MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As we shift into fall, state leaders are already thinking about clearing snow from the roads.
And in some cases, what they’re finding is a big increase in the price of road salt.READ MORE: Vaccine Doubts Fuel Dr. Scott Jensen's Rise In Minnesota Governor Race
The demand for road salt is outpacing the supply. A trade group for salt mines says they can’t produce it as fast as states and cities are ordering it.
It stems from what happened last winter. Here in Minnesota and many other states, we saw storm after storm dump heavy snowfall amounts well into the spring.
MnDOT says it won’t be long before their salt trucks will be on the roads with us, clearing the way.
This winter, however, the process will be more expensive than it’s been in the past, according to Kevin Gutknecht, director of communications for MnDOT.
“This year we’re gonna pay about $80 a ton, and we’ve ordered at MnDOT about 277,000 tons of salt for the coming winter,” Gutknecht said. “And that’s pretty similar to what we ordered last year.”
But what’s different is what the state paying for it. Gutknecht says the price jumped about four percent. They started ordering it at the end of last winter, and most of it has already been delivered.
“One of the reasons we get started really early is because the salt comes up the river on barges, and when it gets to be close to wintertime, rivers tend to freeze up,” he said. “So we get that salt stocked up ahead of time.”
States like Michigan and Ohio report much more dramatic increases in price. Some of their salt suppliers went from charging $35 a ton last year to $100 a ton for road salt this year.READ MORE: 'Perfect Timing To Go': MEA Marking One Of The Busiest Travel Weekends Of The Fall
“In some places the prices have gone up significantly. The issue has a lot to do with where those states are, how does salt get transported to them and so on,” Gutknecht said.
Last winter’s brutal conditions and frequent storms across the nation have transportation officials determined to be more prepared this time around.
They’re buying as much road salt as they can, as fast as it can be produced.
“In economics there’s the law of supply and demand, and if there is a greater demand, the prices are probably are gonna go up,” he said.
Gutknecht says that’s why they start buying what they think they will need in the coming winter early in the year — before the price shoots up.
He also says the price depends on the salt supplier and what region of the country you’re in.
Also, at the end of last winter, we know MnDOT ended up having to buy some additional road salt.
Last winter when we kept getting hit with snow late in the season, they were forced to order an additional 30,000 tons of road salt.
But they didn’t increase their order for this winter, saying there’s really no way to predict how much they’ll need.MORE NEWS: A Ride-Along With Minneapolis Police Shows How Staffing Shortages Have Officers Stretched Thin
They say they do have money in their budget to purchase more if needed.