COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A shortage of road salt has some Ohio communities scrambling and the state's transportation department is looking for ways to help.
The state didn't get any takers from salt suppliers over the past week when the Ohio Department of Transportation offered to order 150,000 tons of salt for counties, cities and townships.
No salt companies bid in the 10-day window that ended Friday. The lack of bids is a sign that the companies are stretched thin, said department spokesman Steve Faulkner.
As snow continues to blanket Ohio, road salt supplies are stretched tight.
The plan was to stockpile salt at seven locations around the state for communities that were running low and then have them replace the salt when their own supplies were replenished.
Now the transportation department said it will explore other options.
"We're looking at some alternatives of how we could pursue some additional salt and how we could get some more into Ohio," Faulkner said. "I'm not sure exactly how that's going to play out. We should have more information next week."
The agency has been helping smaller communities by providing salt for individual storms.
There are not a lot of communities in dire need of salt, Faulkner said, even though many have used more salt than usual.
Cincinnati officials said Saturday that some crews have been told to use a salt-sand mixture over the weekend to conserve salt supplies because of its dwindling supply.
Licking County in central Ohio was close to a dangerously low level of salt before receiving more this past week, said Bill Lozier, the county engineer.
The state transportation department is not in danger of running out of salt, Faulkner said. The agency has ordered another 510,000 tons and can buy only 40,000 tons more under its existing contracts.
Department director Jerry Wray said the agency could end up using 1 million tons of salt for the first time.