Road salt: Wise feels the pinch

by JENAY TATE • Editor & Publisher

01.27.12 – 12:02 am

WISE — Because of a change in how the state does business, the town will no longer be allowed to buy road salt from the Virginia Department of Transportation local inventory.

That means Wise has to build its own salt storage facility, which is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $350,000.  Tuesday night, Town Council approved a contract with Thompson & Litton to design it situated on land the town owns fronting Lake Street, across from Lighthouse Ministries.

Town Manager Beverly Owens told council Wise was notified in a Dec. 2 letter of the change. In a memo to council, Owens said that in the 29 years she has been with the town, it has always purchased salt for snow removal purposes from VDOT’s Glamorgan shop.

The town has no salt storage facility now and does not stock salt, Owens explained Wednesday. When weather requires it, town trucks head out to the Glamorgan shop and bring back four or five loads of salt the town pays for. That’s enough for about a week and the town has a small, tarped storage area that can handle that much. Sometimes, town crews hit the bad roads with salt immediately and then there’s no need for storage at all, Owens said.

“We will have to store a sufficient amount of salt to do what we need,” Owens told council. They’re estimating they’ll need enough space to store 400 tons of salt, enough for a season.

Where will it come from? asked councilman Clifton Carson. It will go out for bid, Owens said.  The storage facility must be ready for use by Oct. 1, she said, adding “that will be pushing it.” In a memo to council, Owens said “time is of the essence.”

The town’s original storage space collapsed in the 2009 winter storm and was not rebuilt. They had hoped to defer construction until they were ready to build a new public works facility on the Lake Street land. “Unfortunately, we now face the daunting task of quickly constructing a safe and efficient salt storage facility that complies with environmental requirements,” Owens wrote to council.

Salt can have potentially negative effects on the environment if stored improperly, she wrote, so they need to build a building that has storage and loading areas constructed with protective coatings and/or membranes surrounded by impermeable surfaces.

Thompson & Litton’s Greg Widener told council T&L would develop a “quick master plan” so the salt storage space is planned with future development in mind. The town’s long-term goal is to build a new public works facility on the property. No timetable is set, Owens said. Thompson & Litton had landed the contract for that planning. The salt storage facility is considered phase one of that project.

Widener said a plan would help ensure “everything is put in the right place.” He said they would “start surveying tomorrow” if council members approved the contract. They did.

Salt Storage Specs

Estimated cost: $350,000

• 2,000 square foot building

• Space to store 400 tons of salt

• Pre-engineered superstructure atop concrete poured in place

• Protective coating and membranes

• Concrete apron at building

• One restroom

• Concrete walled bins for gravel storage

• Gravel roadway and parking

 Thompson & Litton Contract

Total: $67,900

• Basic services, $40,000; includes all facets of design, bidding and contract administration.

• Additional services, $27,900: includes permits, inspections surveys, geotechnical work, printing, plus conceptual planning for the larger public works facility.

© 2012