Starke County Highway Superintendent Discusses Winter Operations

Starke County Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler presented the county commissioners this week with an update on winter operations.

While the first part of winter was rather quiet, work to clear roads from snow and ice picked up in January and February, according to Ritzler. The total snow removal cost in December, January and February was about $287,500 with 73,205 plow miles recorded.  The cost per plow mile has risen a little due to fuel cost and materials. 

It is the time of year to put in an order for treated and untreated salt for next year’s operations. 

“Our commitment last year was 250 tons of treated salt and 1500 tons of untreated salt.  We have to buy at least 80 percent of that commitment and we can buy up to 120 percent.  We do that 120 in case we have a really bad winter.  Our goal is to hit an average winter right at that 80 percent.  We usually have some stored.  Our commitment for treated is 250 tons and 80 percent is 200 tons and we just reached that commitment.  We have a full storage of treated salt that should last if we have an average March.  We still have room if there is more March or April snow than usual,” explained Ritzler. 

He said the untreated salt is about at the same usage. 

“We have about 117 tons left in the minimum commitment.  We’re about half-full at the garage now so we’re going to order that soon.  It looks like we’re going to reach that 80 percent so it’s an average winter.”

The total cost for the salt purchase is about $70,000. 

When crews aren’t dealing with inclement weather, they have been participating in training, patching potholes and other maintenance efforts as conditions allow for certain aspects of road repairs.