Hennepin County Running Low on Treated Road Salt

February 20, 2018 10:50 PM

There's only enough treated road salt left in Hennepin County for one more round of snow, according to county officials.

However, those officials aren't worried. They did this on purpose.


"We backed down to 80 percent of what we normally order," said Andy Kraemer, operations manager for the county's public works department.

Salt storing sheds in Medina, Bloomington and Osseo will undergo repairs this spring.

RELATED: Hold the Salt: Road Engineers Look to Cut Back Usage on Minnesota's Roads

In order to elongate the life of the concrete inside, the sheds needs to be treated, sealed and pressure-washed about every ten years.

If there's too much leftover salt that needs to be moved out of the shed, it can damage the asphalt outside the sheds.

It's Kraemer's job to strike the right balance of ordering enough to make it through the winter, but not so much that there are piles and piles leftover.

It's a challenge. Especially with the winter season Minnesota has seen.

RELATED: Minneapolis Sees Slow Progress in Curbing Road Salt Use

"We wound up using treated salt sooner than normal," Kraemer said.

The county halted sales of its treated salt to small cities like Greenfield, Maple Plain and Three Rivers Park this year in order to ration what's left, but it's still selling untreated salt.

Untreated salt is normally used far more than the colorful, treated salt. However, since this winter has been so brutally cold, crews have had to rely more on the chemicals that are better at breaking down ice when temperatures drop below 10 degrees.

Still, Hennepin County is used to cutting back. It's been reducing salt usage in the county for the past ten years from using 400-600 pounds of salt per lane mile to now using only about 200 pounds per lane mile, according to Kraemer.

RELATED: Minnesota Waters Deal with Excess Chloride from Road Salt

In addition to the environmental reasons, it's also more economical to ration the amount of treated salt the county buys each year.

Treated salt costs roughly $20 more per ton than the untreated blend.

Kraemer said the levels of salt in the Medina shed is the lowest it's been for a long time.

But he's not sweating it. If the cold doesn't let up, crews can use brine to treat the untreated salt.

"Right now I feel better about it. Especially looking at the forecast. It's going to be in the 30s coming up and we're coming into March, so I think we'll be just fine."



Katherine Johnson

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