Ohio Valley Communities in Search of Salt

Photo by Shelley Hanson James Rinkes of Martins Ferry sprinkles salt from a cup after shoveling his sidewalk along Zane Highway on Tuesday.

With Old Man Winter handing the Ohio Valley its share of snow and ice over the past week, many area communities are struggling to stock enough salt to keep the roads clear.

“Supplies are getting low. It has been a rough winter already. … Crews are out plowing and salting. It has been pretty much an everyday thing,” Bethlehem Mayor Tim Bishop said during a village council meeting this week.

Bethlehem council voted to order 100 tons of salt at a total cost of $9,800. Bishop said there is only enough salt left to last for possibly “one more trip around the village.”

He said the village doesn’t want to be in a position where crews can’t keep the roads cleared properly for the residents, and he hopes the salt will be delivered by the end of the week.

Bethlehem Councilman Stephen Harasuik thanked village crews for their work during the recent snowfall, he has received a few complaints from residents who said not enough salt was applied to the more hilly areas of their neighborhoods. Bishop told Harasuik he believed crews would properly address those complaints in the future.

On the other side of the Ohio River in Martins Ferry, Service Director Chris Cleary said his city has been waiting for new shipments of salt to arrive.

That happened this week, but crews have been using what little salt they had left to concentrate on steep and hilly neighborhoods in the city.

“We’re doing the hills and every intersection where we can. It’s like a triage unit right now. We’re taking care of the worst,” he said.

Until the streets are clear, Cleary advises people to take their time driving.

“Take extra time and leave a little earlier, and drive a little slower,” he said.

West Virginia Delegate Pat McGeehan, R-Hancock, on Wednesday addressed rumors that the state Division of Highways had run out of salt completely.

“This is false. With the rise in water levels, there were several river barges that were delayed or unable to deliver their cargo at the hub in Wheeling — and one of these barges was believed to have been carrying salt reserves for road conditions,” McGeehan posted to his Facebook page.

According to McGeehan, the DOH ordered salt to be hauled in by truck from Pennsylvania and Ohio as a precaution against the salt supply running low.

He said the DOH’s schedule for clearing state highways has not been altered in any way due to a lack of salt.