Winter Weather Causes Increased KYTC Maintenance Costs

Jan 20, 2014

Kentucky Transportation officials say the state has enough road salt to make it through the rest of the winter, but buying supplies again could come at a cost.

KYTC spokesman Keith Todd says that during a typical mild winter, money not used on salt can be saved by going towards paving roads in the summer, but that might not be the case this year.

"We purchased about 36,000 gallons of calcium chloride after this most recent really cold spell that we had," said Todd. "One of the problems is that when temperatures drop below twenty degrees, it somewhat lessens the impact of our salt and other ice-fighting chemicals, about the only thing you can do is pour it on in larger quantities. So that particular event used more than say an average event might. 

Todd says it’s difficult to tell how this year compares to previous years as we still have a lot of winter to go.

He says the KYTC used approximately 3,000 tons of salt and 100,000 gallons of salt brine during the ice event from January 2nd to January 6th and that a ton of salt costs about the same as a ton of asphalt.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has storage capacity for 320,000 tons of salt held in KYTC district and county highway maintenance facilities. The largest salt supply is located in The Mega Cavern, an underground facility in Louisville.  It can hold 45,000 tons of salt.

When salt supplies run low, the KYTC replenishes them from multiple contracted vendors.

Brine is sprayed onto the roadways before most winter weather events.  The resulting salt residue is activated once precipitation falls. Brine makes the roadways safer in the early hours of a winter weather event by preventing the ice and snow from sticking to the road surface.  As a result, the roadways are easier to pretreat for winter weather.