Shortage in Road Salt Could Pose Major Problems for Midwest (NBC33)

By Eric DeFreeuw - NBC33

January 29, 2014 Updated Jan 29, 2014 at 7:37 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (NBC33) - The cold weather and ice that has been pounding northeast Indiana is causing a shortage of road salt that could have a major impact on the entire Midwest.

Salt distributors are telling NBC33 that a number of their customers have already used up the amount of salt they projected for all of 2014 in the past month alone.

Due to that high usage, the price of salt has more than doubled. And it has caught both customers and distributors off-guard.

"No one had really forecasted this," says Andrew Thiele, President of Midwest Salt - a salt distributor based in Fort Wayne. "At the beginning of the year a lot of the salt companies were going out with crazy low pricing because they were sitting on so much salt from the past few years and what we're hearing is they've oversold a lot of these piles, so customers are getting shut off because the salt just isn't going to be there in the end."

Salt is becoming so short in supply that many cities and counties across the state are having to turn to other means to deal with icy roads.

"A lot of municipalities already have decided not to salt side roads, they're only salting main roads. A lot of them are going to sand or mixing three parts sand to one part salt to try to conserve as much salt as possible. So you could see a lot of sand on the roads."

Thiele says a number of those municipalities have used as much salt so far this year as they used in the past two years combined.

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