The Jackson County Highway Department has two bays to mix salt and sand and two others to store salt at its Brownstown facility.
Warren Martin, the county highway superintendent, said there’s storage for 200 tons of salt.
He recently proposed having a metal-covered, dome-type structure built to hold 2,000 tons of salt.
He told county commissioners that he has been talking with suppliers of the structures to obtain quotes.
“We want to be able to get to a point that we can buy about 2,000 tons of salt and be able to have that in place,” Martin said. “I think once you get up around that 2,000-ton mark, that’s going to give you ample salt to put more product on the road.”
So far this year, county highway crews have spread about 600 tons of salt on roads, Martin said. He recently ordered another 200 tons.
“We will have 800 of the 1,000 tons that we have contracted for this year in house. If nothing else happens and we’re at a breaking point, we don’t have to take the rest. We’ve got to take 80 percent of it,” Martin said.
“For us to do an adequate job of taking care of roads, we’ve got to get more product down on these roads. It’s just pure and simple,” he added. “We’ve got trucks now that are geared, that are set up so that you can monitor what goes down and how it goes down. But if you try to make 400 tons stretch out over 738 miles of roads two ways, we struggle with that every year.”
Martin found one contractor that would install a three-sided structure, and it would sit on blocks 6 feet high.
“If you ever need to tear it down, move it or make adjustments or add on to it or whatever you want to do, it’s a fairly simple operation,” he said. “We have to supply those blocks, and we will have to pay for the concrete and having concrete finished.”
Most of the structures Martin found come with a 20-year warranty on materials.
Martin said several surrounding counties store salt outside. He said Jackson County did that before he started in his position eight years ago.
There used to be a row of pine trees on the north side of the highway garage, and Martin said most of them were killed by the natural flow line of the salt that was stored outside. Only a couple of those trees remain.
“It kills everything, and we don’t want to be that kind of neighbor,” Martin said.
Commissioners President Matt Reedy said that’s also a waste of product.
Martin said the cost of salt is down right now, about $72 per ton. That’s compared to $80 per ton last year and several hundred dollars per ton two years ago.
Martin said he plans to provide costs of a new salt storage structure at the next commissioners meeting, set for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Jackson County Courthouse annex.