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Township Worries About Dwindling Road Salt Supply

Township Worries About Dwindling Road Salt Supply

SANATOGA PA – As Lower Pottsgrove highway crews head out again today (Thursday, March 5, 2015) to plow away winter snow, attempt to de-ice local roads and generally clean up after whatever Mother Nature leaves behind, township officials admit they’re worried about a dwindling supply of road salt but say they’re pleased with the resourcefulness of their public works supervisor.

The formerly huge pile in the Lower Pottsgrove salt shed is being diminished daily because of persistently cold and icy weather, Manager Ed Wagner said Monday (March 2). What’s worse, he added, is that a new load might not be delivered until after the current stock runs out.

Wagner echoed concerns offered by scores of municipal leaders across much of Pennsylvania in recent days. From the massive state Department of Transportation to employees of tiny Commonwealth villages, all complain that barges carrying road salt for delivery here and elsewhere are backed up because they can’t navigate through iced-over river passages.

Wagner said he knew of two neighboring townships that were already out of salt and seeking other solutions to keep roads clear. The situation in Lower Pottsgrove isn’t that dire … yet, he said.

PennDOT reportedly has spent $31 million so far this year to purchase salt; it budgeted only $25 million. Given both the increased need and the looming salt shortage, NBC10-TV in Philadelphia reported Thursday (March 4) that PennDOT had begun mixing some remaining salt with finely crushed gravel to provide a traction boost on less-traveled back roads.

Wagner didn’t indicate using a filler like gravel would be needed in the township. He still hopes the barges will make it though. If they don’t, though, commissioners during their Monday night meeting said they were certain Highway Department Supervisor John Fogel would figure something out.

All board members sang Fogel’s praises, noting residents had called them personally to complement the township on what they deemed as excellent road conditions this winter. “John’s been very proactive with these storms,” Wagner agreed. “There are times he’s slept in the garage all night just to be ready for when the crews leave in the early morning.”

“He’s been very great to work with,” Police Chief Michael Foltz added. Foltz recounted an incident during the previous week when an elderly couple called police to their home for a medical emergency. His officers couldn’t get into the driveway because of ice there. “We called the (township) garage,” and Fogel sent “guys right out” to clear a path, according to the chief.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ March 2 meeting):

Photo from Google Images

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