By Mary McGuire


MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This year has done a number on public works departments across Minnesota.

Scraping, shoveling and plowing roads has been a 24-hour task for crews across the state. The non-stop fight against snow and slush has taken a toll on Olmsted County’s top weapon against icy roads.

Olmsted County Highway Maintenance Engineer Chad Schuman says they have about 200 to 300 tons of salt left. A typical snow storm uses about 60 tons. If there’s ice in the forecast, they could use up to 240 tons.

“We are kind of on that edge of how far can we go,” said Schuman.

Morton, the county’s road salt supplier, ran out of stockpiles and current orders are suspended this month.

(credit: CBS)

“We typically get everything from La Crosse but that stockpile ran out fairly early, so they’ve been trucking it all the way from Dubuque,” said Schuman.

Public Works will only use the remaining supply for critical areas. Looking ahead, crews are filling their trucks with a salt-sand mix as officials hope for snow instead of freezing rain.

“You plow all the snow off and you put the material down just to melt what’s on the road. When you have ice, there really isn’t a way to just scrape it off. You have to use material to actually melt it,” said Schuman.

The county is looking for other ways to up its salt inventory since winter is not over yet, but Schuman says many departments across the region are feeling the same pinch.

Despite the shortage of road salt, snow plow will continue to run and plow whenever there is a snow event.

Mary McGuire

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