A robust winter season and more precipitation expected in the coming weeks has Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) officials looking for ways to conserve salt as deliveries slow and materials run in short supply.
With less than 150,000 tons of salt on hand and delivery becoming increasingly difficult, KYTC engineers are implementing strategies to stretch the remaining supply. When conditions permit, crews will rely more on plowing and less on treatment with salt and other materials.
"We like to be aggressive about clearing our roadways," Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said. "But we also must be careful in our planning and judicious in our use of salt and other materials to ensure we don't run out."
On average, the cabinet uses 200,000 to 250,000 tons of salt a year. To date this winter, KYTC crews have spread more than 300,000 tons. With most of the country experiencing an unusually harsh winter, shipments of salt have slowed and new supplies are hard to find.
Salt reserves across Kentucky are dwindling. Even the state's largest reserve, at the Louisville Mega Cavern, has been deeply tapped.
KYTC began this winter with a 60,000-ton emergency reserve inside the Mega Cavern. As of today, the reserve is down to 26,000 tons and the 12 districts of the Department of Highways collectively have requested 18,000 tons of the reserve with which to replenish their supplies.
The salt shortage also means the state is unable to fill all requests it receives from county and municipal governments for additional salt. KYTC's top priority and obligation is to the state highway system. Routes are assigned priorities, based on traffic volume.
"A" routes, which are the highest priority, include interstates, parkways, many four-lane roads and other highly traveled principal arterials. "B" routes, which would be next in line for treatment, are less heavily traveled U.S. routes. "C" routes, the last to be treated, are mainly local and rural routes with low traffic volumes. (To see the priority routes in your county log on to: http://transportation.ky.gov/Maintenance/Pages/Snow-and-Ice-Priority-Maps.aspx)
While crews work to keep roads clear and safe, drivers are asked to adopt safe driving habits:
Road conditions throughout the state can be found on the Transportation Cabinet website at www.511.ky.gov, by calling 511 in Kentucky or 1-866-737-3767 for out-of-state callers. Links to weather updates, weather safety tips, including winter driving tips, can be found on the Kentucky Emergency Management website at www.kyem.ky.gov.
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