Salt price hikes from shortage forcing local contractors to pay more, charge more for services

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Icy roads are as inescapable as the accidents they cause, and as unavoidable as winter itself, but normally they are affordable to fix.

A salt shortage has companies seeing prices spike for local contractors using the mineral on streets and sidewalks.

“We were in a position where we didn’t have choice, so the cost did go up," said Jeff Burhenn, snow manager for Circle City Outdoors. “There's a shortage of salt, and we need salt, so unfortunately the customer has to pay.”

Burhenn said the company he works for paid 50% to 75% percent more this year compared to last.  Because of the issue, some places are forced to charge more for their services.  Circle City Outdoors bought early, just to make sure they don't run out.  They have roughly 4,000 tons of salt at their disposal.  If the available salt supplies diminish, Burhenn said states and cities get priority when it comes to the remaining stock.

“We take care of just over 300 properties, so we can’t run out," Burhenn said of his company's operation, which has 21 salt trucks. “We bought from a supplier, and had it delivered on barges on the Ohio River.”

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has only seen a marginal increase in their pricing, however, INDOT gets a better price by having multiple vendors compete for their hefty business.

“Planning ahead, planning early, getting a contract in place well before the winter season starts, it helps us to set pricing," said Scott Manning, an INDOT spokesman.

The shortage can be attributed to last year's severe winter and a labor strike earlier this year at the world's largest salt mine in Canada.