Road salt prices jump ahead of winter season

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INDIANAPOLIS - Highway and street departments across Central Indiana are racing to re-stock their salt barns before winter and finding that the cost of salt has gone up.

On average, the state has seen a 57% jump in prices per ton this year.

"It's not gold or oil, but maybe in the winter months in Indiana it might have a higher value," said INDOT spokesman Nathan Riggs.

Riggs said nationwide, salt supplies are down after last winter's polar vortex and as departments try to replenish their stock piles before the first snow fall.

"It's economics 101. Wherever there`s a higher demand, you`re going to see an increase in price."

Last year, INDOT spent about $64 per ton for road salt. This year, Riggs said, the Indianapolis area is spending about $72 per ton. Some other areas in the state are shelling out as much as $100 per ton.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works has also noticed a jump in their costs.

"From $71 a ton to about $79... That's not outside the range of fluctuation that we're used to seeing year to year," explained DPW spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson. "Because the City of Indianapolis and Marion county is so large that the quantities of salt that we use are at such a bulk rate we can keep it a little lower than some of the other cities in Indiana can."

So what happens if there is another polar vortex this winter?

INDOT and DPW promise they are committed to keeping roads clean and drivers safe.

DPW is at full capacity with 18,000 tons of salt on hand. INDOT has about 140,000 tons statewide and double that on order.

"If we have a winter like we had last season we're gonna make sure that we have the resources and the salt on hand to get us through safely," said Riggs.