Crews fight snow despite salt shortage

Campus maintenance staff have been able to keep sidewalks clear of snow most of the winter because most storms have been overnight.
Photo by Mika Kotanova

The price of road salt has skyrocketed in the last few years, and MCCC is no exception to the scarcity effecting states across the nation.

Knowing when to use the precious reserves of salt and when to hold off in case worse storms are ahead is the real challenge, according to MCCC Maintenance Foreman Bryan Rorke.

“I’m sure you’ve even noticed on the county roads—the price of salt has tripled over the last five years,” Rorke said. “The county has even cut on back because of the costs. There are limited quantities, so you can only get so much of it,” he said.

According to Monroe News’ snowfall records, the recent twoday storm sits in the top ten heaviest storms in the Monroe region.

For the most part, the campus has been clear during peak hours, Rorke said.

After each snowfall, the crew must clear the areas with the most traffic and add the salt. The Maintenance Department is operating with fewer employees, following a retirement at the end of last semester.

As a result, students should expect a fluctuating percent of parking lots lost to snow, Rork said.

“You can no longer afford to get everything totally all clear, you just make it as safe as you can,” he said. “Sure, it would be nice to have a whole bunch of people working out here, but that’s not that financially responsible.”

Still, Rorke stood by his team, and explained how it’s not as simple as just plowing snow.

He believes he and his crew are doing the best they can with what they have.

When a storm is forecast, the team will begin to make a plan depending on the time of day and events scheduled.

“Each snow event is a different event, depending upon what goes on. If it snows on a Tuesday it’s different than if it snows on Friday, or if it snows on a Saturday, we look at everything that’s going on here from what resources we have,” Rorke said.

Road salt has become a rare commodity in the US, with last year’s record-breaking winter and this year’s encore.

“Last year we came close to running out of salt and we couldn’t get any more,” Rorke said.

He wanted to remind students to continue using extreme caution while driving on weather-affected roads.