T-DOT salt supply running low - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

T-DOT salt supply running low

Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- With the possibility of a snow system moving in, salt is becoming a precious commodity.

T-DOT is not scheduled to receive a new supply until February, leaving salt barns in our area a bit bare.

Statewide, 161,000 tons have been used this winter season.

That's put them 7-million dollars over budget.

In December, T-DOT ordered another 95,000 tons from their supplier, but delays are forcing them to ration what they have left.

"I was looking for a really big shovel," says Carol Drinnon.

With the potential for another winter storm, Carol Drinnon decided it's high time for a new shovel.

"I do have a smaller, metal shovel but it's not as wide and as big as this one and I do a lot of shoveling," says Drinnon.

That's not the only thing Drinnon and other Ace Hardware shoppers are looking for.

The store just restocked 800 gallons of propane Sunday morning. They ordered extra supplies of Ice Melt, shovels and kerosene after shoppers picked shelves bare the weekend before 8-10 inches of snow hit the Tennessee Valley.

"Our trucks are loaded, their ready to go. We brined on Thursday and Friday, so we're ready for anything that comes our way," says T-DOT spokesperson Jennifer Flynn.

But this time salt loads are on the lighter side, as T-DOT's salt supply is running low.

"Currently this year we've been using it faster than we can get it in, so it's been a little bit of a problem for everybody," says Flynn.

Flynn says in her 32 years on the job, this is the first time she's seen the back of the salt barn.

Statewide T-DOT ordered a fresh shipment in December, but supplier delays mean it's still not here.

"The last storm in January we used 15,000 tons. In the Christmas snow we used 15,000 tons, so you know that's 30,000 tons right there," says Flynn.

That's 30,000 of the 47,000 T-DOT Region 2 keeps in supply, which leaves behind a big dent and means a new game plan for the state.

"It may take a little longer to get some of the routes cleared then what you're accustomed to us doing," says Flynn.

T-DOT officials say until the salt shipment arrives they'll focus more on plowing and pretreatment with brine.

T-DOT is also getting creative using sugar beet juice in the brine mixture to make the solution stick to roads longer.

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