UPDATE 9/17/2014 3:40 PM
CLEVELAND (AP) - An extremely harsh winter drives up road salt prices throughout state and forced the Ohio Department of Transportation to contract with an Indiana company to buy less-expensive salt for delivery this winter.
An agency spokesman says road salt prices averaged around $35 a ton last year because of previous mild winters and an abundant supply. But last winter's relentless cold and snow left salt sheds barren and depleted inventories at mines throughout the region.
Prices in some counties this year are roughly triple last year's. The agency recently sought bids for each of Ohio's 88 counties but rejected some of them because they were too high.
The state in the last few days decided to buy less expensive salt from a company in Indiana.
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It still feels like summer out there, but local and state governments have to get ready for another winter season.
And one important item is already melting their budgets.
Both West Virginia and Ohio road departments are paying higher prices for road salt.
On the whole, the bid prices are coming in double what they did a year ago.
The reason is the harsh winter of last year and predictions this coming year might be worse.
The West Virginia Division of Highways is doing what it can to keep those prices down.
"We had what we call a summer fill, so we filled up our salt sheds already. Then, we'll have our seasonal fill later on, when we get into snow season," says Jacob Bumgarner, acting maintenance engineer with the WVDOH.
The City of Parkersburg has decided to hold off bidding on salt until later this month, and Vienna is seeking a second round of bids in hoping to get a better price.
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