Salt shortage felt across New York, New Jersey

Matt Kozar reports on a special delivery for New York City and Long Island
February 6, 2014 3:26:36 AM PST
A special delivery is coming to New York City and Long Island Thursday, especially important when the roads are icy in spots.

The intense snow and cold had led to a huge shortage in salt, and Governor Andrew Cuomo is steppig in to make sure there's enough to go around.

Cuomo ordered 3,500 tons of stockpiled road salt to be trucked to the New York City area, where supplies were running low with plenty of winter left.

Storage facilities piled 50-feet high just weeks ago are now nearly empty, and we've still got more than 40 days of winter left.

The governor says there is enough in the state coffers to go around, it just needs to be distributed. About 130 truckloads were set to be delivered to depots that are running low.

"Some localities have actually been depleting their salt supply," Cuomo said. "The state does have a significant amount of salt on hand. We'll be shipping that salt around the state."

The shortage is also affecting places in New Jersey.

If you drove the windy, hilly back roads of Sparta Township, you still hear the layer of salt crunching under your tires. But this most recent storm may be the last time folks there see any salt for quite some time.

"We're not even halfway through [winter] yet," Sparta police Sergeant John Paul Beebe said. "It's been a long winter."

With two and a half decades on the job, Beebe has rarely seen anything quite like the amount of snow and ice this season.

Sparta Township's 1,500-ton salt shed is practically bare, not because the town has had that much snow, but because of the relentless deep freeze that's had road crews working 39 square miles of asphalt nearly every night.

Town leaders have ordered more salt, but like their counterparts elsewhere in New Jersey, a statewide shortage has kept them waiting.

Sparta Police posted on Facebook that until the salt inventory can be replenished, roads will be prioritized.

"If we have an emergency situation on some of these secondary roads, emergency vehicles have a tough time getting there, we'll figure out a way to get it done," Beebe said. "But for the most part, they're going to be very careful on how much they're going to spread out on the street at night."

But the good people of Sparta aren't complaining. They say this, too, shall pass.

"People always panic when they see a snow storm, but they forget a couple of days later it's gone," resident Kenny Ellman said. "Snow melts. It's not the end of the world."