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After last year's shortage, road salt prices are up 122%

Energy companies across the state say the winter storm left 'relatively few' powerless
Energy companies across the state say the winter storm left 'relatively few' powerless

Some forecasters are warning that this coming winter could be a replay of the not-to-be-forgotten winter last year.

Michigan counties are still reeling from the costs of clearing records amount of snow from the roads last winter.

They burned through their road salt stockpiles, and that's caused a shortage – and forced the price of salt through the roof.

It's up to $76 a ton, more than double last year's price.

Roy Townsend is with the Washtenaw County Road Commission.

"We're going to still obviously provide the service, clear the snow, do all that.

“But come next summer, there's going to have to be other things that don't get done. Such as cutting grass back, or cleaning up along the roadways. Or maybe they got done once instead of twice.”

Townsend says the rising salt costs may mean the county has to shell out an extra $500,000.

"And the frustrating part is, you know salt is something that's needed to keep roads clear, but end of the year, what have you really gained?

“I mean it's really become salt water that's washed into Lake Erie. There's really no benefit. I mean, there's an immediate benefit, but next spring, when the roads start breaking up, you can't say, ‘Oh look at all these improvements we made.’”

Meanwhile, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners passed a new one-year tax to help with road repairs.  

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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