Case in point (for including Utah as one of the Salt States):
Heavy snowfall has cities running short on road salt
Many cities have exhausted their budgets for ice-melting
By Rosemary Winters
The Salt Lake Tribune
Residents of many neighborhood streets in West Valley City will have to wait on the sun to thaw any ice that builds up on their roadways after crews plow.
Slammed by heavy snow storms and below-freezing temperatures, West Valley City is one of several Utah burgs that have blown through their budgets for road salt -- and winter's a long way from over.
West Valley City has spent its allotted $105,000 to buy 5,500 tons of salt and has 2,000 tons left in storage. But more will be needed -- and the price for salt has climbed $2.50 per ton from last winter -- said Phil Markham, the city's operations director. A ton of salt costs between $18 and $30.
Snow plow drivers, Markham said, have been asked to be "more judicious," with the application of salt: All streets are to be plowed, but only main thoroughfares, intersections and roads on slopes or in school zones will get salt.
"We will make sure the roads are safe and drivable," he said. "We're crossing our fingers that we're not going to have a whole 'nother month of storms like we just had."
In Provo, it's routine to let ice melt naturally on residential streets, but still the city has spent its budget of $35,000 for salt, said Public Services Manager Scott Peppler. He expects the city to spend $60,000 by the time winter is over -- the same amount Provo spent during last year's wet winter.
Colder temperatures, Peppler noted, require more salt.
"Trying to melt snow at 20 degrees [Fahrenheit] takes four times as much salt as it does at 30 degrees."
Storms also have eaten up the salt budgets in Sandy, West Jordan, Murray and Cedar City. Salt Lake City has used only one-third of its budget, and Ogden has 40 percent remaining. But both those cities have hefty purses: $250,000 or more.
The Utah Department of Transportation, which oversees the state's highways and freeways, dwarves the cities' spending. Every time the snow flies, the state drops roughly $1 million in labor, fuel, salt and other costs for snow removal.
UDOT has a budget of $26 million for snow removal this winter. About $6.5 million of that will be spent on salt, up from $5 million last winter because of increased prices, said agency spokesman Adan Carrillo.
Even that's a bargain, he said. Other states that don't have homegrown salt mines pay much more.