Another winter storm hits salt supplies

6:57 PM, Mar 5, 2013   |    comments
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A late winter storm hitting the East Coast is also hitting the salt supplies in highway departments across Tennessee.

TDOT reports they have 85% percent capacity in their salt and brine supplies, which easily will handle this storm. However, some of the smaller local departments, with fewer resources, said every storm will put a dent their supplies.

"We've been staying real busy. Our snow plows got some age on them, but we still keep them going and stuff," said Cocke County Highway Department driver Craig Allen.

That county road department has eight snow plows and salt trucks that are getting ready for the storm. However, their working with about 50% of their salt supplies at hand.

Cocke County's mountainous areas usually get some of the worst of the East Tennessee snow.

"We've been pretty busy this winter, and I don't know if we can stand much more of this," said Cocke County Assistant Road Superintendent Lonnie Ottinger.

Salt is not only dwindling for the department, it is also expensive. Therefore, Cocke County treats their roads using a limestone-mix of gravel.

"We basically put down all this dust because it don't hurt your roads and it gives people traction," Ottinger added.

While it does not melt salt on contact, this salt-alternative does provide traction for drivers, the department claimed.

"It's something that we have to address, and if it comes, we'll plan the best we can."

Meanwhile, while getting their trucks ready to go, plow drivers like Allen prepare for what they hope is the last of this winter weather.

"Drive slow and hope it'll be safe," Allen smiled.

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