SIDNEY —‘Tis the season, with the onset of the freezing temperatures, for salt to be spread over city roadways. With the addition of Sidney’s new salt dome, the city of Sidney will have plenty of salt on hand to get through the winter season.
After several years in the planning, the dome is now in use. It was constructed earlier in the year and was filled mid-September.
The new dome, which currently holds about 2,000 tons of salt, is two and half times larger than the previous structure. It measures 35-feet-tall by 65-feet-wide with a depth of 80-feet.
The maximum capacity of the old, concrete salt dome is 800 tons. The old structure now holds stone, gravel and sand.
“The big thing is, of course, the capacity,” city of Sidney Street Manager Brian Green said. “Why that is important is because we average about 1,500 tons of salt a year, and as storms come through, we may not be the first one to get hit with the storm, and there are all of these other communities that are buying salt and getting salt before the storm gets to us. So, as we go through that 800 tons, as we get low, we have to purchase more salt. And a lot of times it’s not available, or the cost is no longer $45 or $48 (a ton); now it is $110 (a ton).”
City officials initially began considering purchasing a larger salt dome around 2015, Green said, when it became apparent the city could save money if it could purchase more salt when prices were lower.
“In 2015, we ran out of salt because we didn’t have the capacity to store it; we had to buy it when we could get it. And then at that time is was $118 per ton, plus we had to pay the trucking cost on it,” Green said.
The average cost of salt for the city over the last 10 years is about $65 per ton.
Annually, the city signs a contract with a salt provider at the end of the summer that locks in a rate for a set amount of salt to be purchased. City staff determines how much to buy based on how much salt was left over from last season and what the anticipated need will be for the winter. Green explained that when the city’s need exceeds the amount of salt the city is contracted to buy, city staff must then rebid for a new price of salt per ton.
“This year we are paying $48.22 per ton, so it helps to make these bigger purchases when the cost is down,” Green said. “By having the extra space, now we are able to have a little bit of buffer room and buy it when the cost is low.”
The new fabric dome is attached to a concrete base that was constructed next to the old structure at the city’s service center, 415 S. Vandemark Road.
The total cost of the salt dome was $124,000. To keep the cost down, Green said, city workers leveled the ground and laid the asphalt in front of the area where the new dome was to be placed before Miller Builders, from Apple Creek, set the footers and constructed the concrete floor, walls and fabric span.
Salt can be delivered all year round, but having already-purchased salt on the premises in Sidney prevents shortage concerns.
“(The new salt dome) was definitely needed. The biggest thing is if we had run short. We had run short quite a few times since I’ve been here. We had to borrow salt off of the state or borrow off of the county,” Green said. “We prefer not to do that.”
The large, new dome allows for more room to move, too, which makes it easier for the loader, the city’s plow trucks, and the delivery trucks to move around. The old structure is separated into four sections and has height limitations, Green noted, which made moving the salt more difficult.
Green pointed out the equipment that will be clearing the roads and spreading the salt. Sidney has eight, 5-ton, salt/plow trucks; four, 1-ton salt/plow trucks and several pickup trucks with attached plows to keep the roadways clear. He noted that it is vital for people to stay clear of plow trucks in action.
Thanks to the new dome’s increased capacity — “two and half (times) what we used to be able to hold,” Green said — “It should get us through the season, no problem.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.