Highway departments running low on salt, will cut back - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Highway departments running low on salt, will cut back

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) - Wisconsin highway departments have used a lot of street salt this winter. Now they're being told to cut back dramatically.

In our area, highway officials say salt reserves haven't reached critical levels just yet, but they're low enough for concern.

"We're using more salt because we've had more storms," said WisDOT highway maintenance supervisor Brent Matthews.

He says this is obviously concerning since salt helps keep roads safe for drivers.

At the beginning of the season, according to the state, Wisconsin had just under 800,000 tons of salt available. Now, 135,000 tons remain.

"Right now we're asking our county providers to put less salt down on the highways so it will assure us the salt we have available will last," Matthews said.

And that's not all.

"We're encouraging them to pre-wet salt. What that does is make it stick to the road better so it doesn't bounce around. We're also giving them the option to use sand-salt on lower volume roadways," said Matthews.

But won't these steps make roads less safe? Matthews says no because "we give them the freedom that if they need to apply extra salt to get rid of ice, they have that capability."

Highway workers hope these tactics will be effective in north central Wisconsin.

In the worst-case scenario of running out of salt, officials say new contracts would have to be made to buy more.

They just hope it doesn't get to that point. 
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