Grand Island salt reserves replenished ahead of potential weather

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island Public works have been implementing a new practice with ordering the salt for road maintenance. A big lesson they learned from last year was how extended cold snaps and frequent snow can seriously deplete their salt reserves. They were shortages all across the state last February in early March. This was also the case across much of the Midwest, so trucks at the salt mines were lined up, and orders were not able to be fulfilled for several weeks.

A big lesson they learned from last year was how extended cold snaps and frequent snow can seriously deplete their salt reserves. They were shortages all across the state last February in early March. This was also the case across much of the Midwest, so trucks at the salt mines were lined up, and orders were not able to be fulfilled for several weeks. "I think we put in an order for five or six loads, we're still waiting on three of them to show up. That was weeks ago. So we're just trying to have the smaller orders so that we're getting it more often. But not necessarily getting as much each time." That was from Shannon Callahan, the Street Superintendent for the City of Grand Island. She explained that there were many orders still to arrive.

A point of uncertainty Callahan highlighted was the weather in the month of March. With orders still to come and a decent reserve already present, she feels they are well-prepared. "We're actually sitting pretty good this year. We, after we had that scare last year, again, that was kind of a statewide issue, but kinda regrouped and said 'hey, can we change our methodology for the way we're ordering our salt?' We try to be conservative, obviously that's a lot of cash sitting out in the salt bunk."

They have also implemented in-house predictions of how the weather will affect the city, and which specific roads and overpasses they may want to treat before a storm or weather condition occurs. Pre-treating can save the city lots of money by reducing the risk for accidents and not having to close roads for cleaning up accidents.

Callahan said it is a constant process of learning from their new and old practices, and hopes the result at the end of the season shows a pattern of better response time and prevention of weather getting in the way of daily life on the road.