Franklin Township implemented some changes regarding township de-icing procedures at their Nov. 13 township meeting following a closed information session with the Franklin County Department of Engineers.
Jim Stephens, township road maintenance supervisor, said because the county is reducing the amount of salt they are giving various entities due to a salt shortage, the amount the township will receive is much less than previous years.
Last year the township obtained approximately 270 tons of salt. This year they get 123 tons.
Dean Ringle, Franklin County Engineer, said he does not know for sure why there’s a shortage, but the combination of the heavy winter last year and supply and demand this year may have affected the salt supply for rock salt mining companies.
"We can suppose and I can suppose that they already maxed out on their supply. That’s just a guess but for a lot of companies, you can only mine so much. When you reach that limit, you’re out of salt," said Ringle.
Stephens said the suggestion the county gave the municipalities was to use alternative methods, such as salt brine.
Stephens said Franklin County estimated the cost of a salt brine tank at over $6,000 but he can build the township a tank for $600. While the county would charge 12 cents per gallon, or $60 for a 500-gallon tank, the township can make their own brine mixture for 5 cents per gallon, or $34.50.
"It would be a gravity-fed brine tank instead of one with a pump," said Stephens. "The big difference between the $6,200 units and the ones you can build, is they have vibrating agitators. The guys that I visited down in Madison Township, just the motion of their truck before they go out, they get it drudged back and forth, back and forth, so it gets it all mixed up real well."
Tom Nuttini, road supervisor for Franklin County Department of Engineers said using brine can save townships money because a crew puts the brine solution down on the roads prior to a snow event and that keeps the snow from sticking to the roads. In addition, using brine can save communities money.
"Several times throughout the winter we can keep from calling crews in through our anti-icing efforts. So that saves on overtime and salt placement and salt use," said Nuttini.
Stephens said a 500-gallon tank will cover 45 road miles and Franklin Township is only 32 road miles in its entirety.
"We could fill it up one time, be able to handle our roads and then still have a little bit left over to go back out and hit intersections and busy roads," said Stephens.
Stephens said as long as the township does not receive any rain after brine is applied, it could last on the roadways for a few days or more.
Stephens admits the downside is that sometimes the brine is applied in anticipation of a snowstorm and the storm does not come.
All trustees voted in favor of the brine solution.
"By going this route, that should hold down our usage," said trustee Paul Johnson.