Weekly Feature

2015-01-07 / Local News

Highway department ready for cold snap


The National Weather Service has forecast the coldest temperatures yet this winter for the rest of the week, with highs struggling to make it into to 20s and lows dipping down to single digits.

In Clarence, the Highway Department is prepared for the cold and has been working around the clock to ensure the 346 lane miles of town and county roads it maintains stays safe for motorists.

“The Highway Department has someone watching the roads 24-7 including weekends and holidays at this time of year,” Clarence Highway Superintendent James Dussing said in an email. “We monitor temperatures and weather reports constantly and communicate with law enforcement and other municipalities on road conditions.”

Dussing said that the department tries to keep 1,000 to 1,500 tons of road salt covered in its storage barn throughout the winter in case there is a salt shortage, which he added occurred last winter in the northeast. Dussing said that the number of regional access points for salt played a role in that.

“There are very few salt mines, therefore when the stockpiles at facilities like American Rock Salt, North American Rock Salt and Cargill are depleted — you can only get so much salt out of the ground and it takes time,” he said. “The mines usually can’t keep up with the demand from all the municipalities when this [weather] occurs.”

The highway superintendent said that the price of a ton of rock salt is up 27 percent from 2014, so the department is “using the salt wisely and making every ton count.” He added they will be experimenting with organic liquid additives this winter to see if the overall amount of salt used can be reduced.

“The three major ways that the use of organic liquids can help our town is by reducing the impact on our waterways, reducing the amount of money we spend on salt and gaining the ability to melt ice at lower temperatures,” he said.

Dussing said that one additive is being used to combat extremely cold temperatures this week, as salt is less effective when the thermometer dips below 17 degrees.

“Sunlight and traffic always help work the salt in and melt things down,” he added. “ People should have brushed up on their winter driving skills by this point in the winter and they should always pay attention to the conditions of the roads they are driving on. We will do our best to make sure they are safe for the residents.”

email: sjagord@beenews.com

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