Town surpasses 2013 salt use totals by 4x

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Town of Tonawanda Highway officials say there are 1,000 tons of salt in the included photo. So far, highway crews have already gone through 11,000 tons of salt this year. Compare that to last winter, when they used only about 2,500 tons.

About a month ago, the salt barn was bare, but the new shipment arrived Tuesday just in time for the anticipated storm on Wednesday. Highway Superintendent Bill Swanson says it is cheaper to put down less salt and plow more often.

“In the long run, when we go plowing, it’s not too bad cost-wise. But when you’re salting everyday, it gets very expensive,” he said.

This winter they’ve already spent $58,000 in overtime costs, which is more than they spent in regular costs last winter, and $272,000 on salt. They’re prepared for the storm Wednesday, but will be looking at the budget to figure out where to get more money from.

Hamburg still has 800 tons of rock salt, more than enough to get through five more storms. But it’s the overtime costs that are building up there. So far, the town has spent over $200,000 on salt and $120,000 on driver overtime.

“That’s certainly going to add onto the budget and that’s something we’re going to set our sight on. Already we budgeted money for that. I’m hoping we can stay within our parameters of what we planned to spend. Last year, I spent $900,000 in grants. That was town and state money. This year, I don’t think I’m going to have that much,” said Hamburg Highway Superintendent Tom Best.

And in Cheektowaga, officials have spent over $250,000 on salt and another $250,000 on overtime.

But the real problems for highway crews might come this summer when they repair the potholes that keep popping up across Western New York.

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