Cities prepare for winter months amid salt price hike

By: Kevin Bunch | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published October 28, 2015


ROSEVILLE/EASTPOINTE — Snowfall and ice do not usually greet Roseville and Eastpointe until December, but the cities’ respective public works departments are already preparing for whatever winter brings their way.

Roseville Department of Public Services Assistant Director Jeff Schmidt said the city has fully stocked its salt dome with 3,000 tons of salt. He said that while scientists expect a milder winter than the past couple due to El Niño’s influence, the city wants to be ready for any possibility.

“They’re calling for a relatively mild winter, which may or may not be the case, but we maxed out our storage facility preparing,” Schmidt said.

He said the price of salt has gone up substantially this year to $58.65 a ton. In contrast, the 2014 salt price per ton was $47.87 — a $10.78 increase.

Eastpointe Department of Public Works Director Mary Van Haaren said the city is in the process of receiving its first large salt shipment for the season, as Eastpointe supplements its salt order with additional supplies later in the winter. The city’s salt barn is still half-full of salt from last winter, she said, so that will be loosened up and ready to use this year. Eastpointe’s salt barn holds up to 400 tons of salt at once.

Van Haaren said workers are trying to finish up all the concrete pouring before frost sets in on the myriad sidewalk and street projects that have taken place this year. She said that ideally, they will be finished by the end of October, though if the weather holds, workers will try to finish more projects into November.

Contractors have been lined up to clear sidewalks in the event that property owners fail to do so, and the city is contracting supplementary plowing services in case a situation comes up where the city does not have the manpower to clear the roads, she said.

“The mechanic is working to make sure all our equipment is in tip-top shape to get the snow plows on the road,” Van Haaren said.

Eastpointe has four smaller pickup trucks outfitted with plow blades, along with several bigger plows that handle major roads like Gratiot. Van Haaren said the state does reimburse the city up to a certain dollar amount for clearing Gratiot, since it’s a major road. In total, the city maintains a fleet of 10 trucks.

Van Haaren added that Macomb County is in charge of clearing the even-numbered mile roads, though the city will help if the county cannot get to Eight Mile and 10 Mile roads quickly enough.

Roseville also is in the process of getting its five salt and plow trucks ready. Schmidt said a mechanic looked over most of them during the summer, with one truck still having some issues. The city also has an additional truck on order, Schmidt said, which may arrive in time to be used this winter.

Since potholes are an inevitable part of winter maintenance, Schmidt said that Roseville has its dump truck full of cold patch and ready to roll. The cold patch price has not changed from its $108 a ton last year.

“We keep a full-sized dump truck in the garage that’s ready to go as needed,” Schmidt said. “When that runs out, we send it out to get refilled. That way, we always have it on hand in a controlled environment and ready to go when we need it.”

Eastpointe has its cold patch supplies ready as well, Van Haaren said, though she expects the city may not need to use as much this year since the Kelly Road reconstruction project has fixed some of the major problem areas, such as the stretch between Stephens and 10 Mile.

“That should eliminate a lot of patching, and Stephens is all replaced (from 2014), so a lot of the bad areas are taken care of,” Van Haaren said. “So we’re anticipating less need of that this year.”