FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – The Connecticut Department of Transportation will offer some of its road salt to towns facing shortages -- including possibly Fairfield, Norwalk and Redding -- and will give up its spot in line for future shipments, Gov. Dannel Malloy said Friday.
“We have plenty of salt. Municipalities don’t,” Malloy said at a press conference Friday. “We’re taking steps to make sure that municipalities have salt.”
The DOT will keep enough salt on hand to take care of the state-maintained roads for two more storms, Malloy said. The rest of its stockpile will be distributed to towns that have depleted their supplies.
The state will also give the 88 towns on the state’s salt-buying contract buying priority over the DOT, so they “will come in line before DOT to get the supplies that they need,” state Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said.
The salt is arriving just in time -- towns and cities are cleaning up from Thursday's nor'easter and another 1 to 3 inches of snow is forecast for Saturday.
After Thursday’s storm, the state DOT had 25,000 to 35,000 tons of salt on hand, Redeker said Friday. The state also took in a shipment with an additional 30,000 tons Friday and arranged for a new shipment arrive on Feb. 22, a week ahead of schedule.
As of noon Friday, 22 of the 121 towns that had talked with the governor’s office said they needed more road salt. The other towns have been urged to contact the state if they need to restock their salt supplies.
Redding is one of those 22 towns without salt supplies, town Highway Superintendent Jeff Hanson said Friday. The state was able to sell the town some of its surplus salt before the most recent storm, which the town has mixed with sand to make the supply last longer.
“It’s working slowly, but it’s working,” Hanson said Friday.
Norwalk, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Monroe and Trumbull are the other towns in Fairfield County on the state’s list of towns in need.
Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau said his town is still waiting on a 500-ton delivery from the state’s salt supplier, which had been put on back order because of the high demand.
“At the moment we can handle another storm, it’s the storm after the storm that’s the issue," Tetreau said Friday.
On Thursday, Malloy and other state governors asked President Barack Obama for a federal disaster declaration, which would help the state get more salt. One possible benefit would be a temporary release from highway load limits, allowing trucks to carry more salt at a time. Federal aid could also be a possibility if problems continue through the rest of the winter, Malloy said.
“We’re not planning for two weeks,” he said. “We’re planning for 60 days of weather conditions that we may have to respond to.”