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Snow, cold temps leave Ohio communities short on road salt, seeking alternatives

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CLEVELAND — As snow and frigid temperatures continue in Ohio, communities in parts of the state are running short on road salt, city officials said.

Some cities like Chagrin Falls and North Ridgeville have waited weeks for hundreds of tons of ordered salt, the Northeast Ohio Media Group reported (http://bit.ly/1DQsL6q ).

The region has recorded nearly 60 inches of snow since November. While that's down about five inches from last year at this time, the total still exceeds the average 47 inches for this time of year. The colder-than average temperatures have also made snow harder to melt and roads more difficult to clear.

For some cities, a serious salt problem is just one more snowfall away.

PHOTO: Strong winds made driving difficult as drifting snow cut visability on Broadway Ave. in Canton, Ohio Thursday, February 19, 2015. (AP Photo/ The Repository, Bob Rossiter)
Strong winds made driving difficult as drifting snow cut visability on Broadway Ave. in Canton, Ohio Thursday, February 19, 2015. (AP Photo/ The Repository, Bob Rossiter)

"We have enough to last this next week, but if it keeps consistently snowing it's going to be difficult," Middleburg Heights Service Director Jim Herron told the media group.

Middleburg Heights ordered 850 tons of salt in the last two weeks, but both orders were dropped by salt supplier Cargill.

Last winter, Ohio used more than 1 million tons of salt on state roads — a nearly 60 percent increase over the average. Heading into the winter, average salt prices were more than $100 per ton, a sharp increase from the previous year's $35 per ton. Most Ohio counties had locked in prices between $50 and $80 per ton.

Some cities are implementing alternative plans as they wait for salt deliveries. WEWS-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1FSYGFz ) the city of Green is spreading salt only at intersections, on hills and on curves. Meanwhile, Stow has replaced rubber edges on its fleet of snow plows with steel for better plowing, said Mayor Sara Drew.

Cargill is working to determine where salt is needed most, spokesman Mark Klein told the television station in an email.

"Demand is tremendous across the snow belt," he said. "We are working with customers to prioritize the hot spots and get salt where it can do the most good."

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