Wet winter leaves Lincoln running short of road sand, salt

Posted March 05, 2012, at 5:52 p.m.
Last modified March 05, 2012, at 6:33 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — It has been a pretty mild winter this season for everybody except David Lloyd.

The Lincoln Public Works director says he finds himself in the same situation many department directors are in: running low on road salt and sand not because of heavy snowfall, but rather because of rain and ice.

Seventeen of the 21 snowstorms that have hit Lincoln this winter have become rainstorms before they passed by, Lloyd said.

“Even though we have had a mild winter, we still have used a lot of material on the roads this year. This has been one of the wettest winters that I can remember,” Lloyd said Monday. “We haven’t used this much sand in five or six years.”

Freezing rain requires as much as four times the amount of salt and sand as would be required for a simple snowstorm, Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said.

The Public Works Department stockpiles about 5,000 yards of sand for the winter and had, as of Monday, about 500 yards left, Lloyd said. He believes that his department will have enough to get through the remaining winter and the spring, but is concerned that he will lack enough liquid calcium to cover the town’s public dirt roads in the spring.

A component of the mix of sand and salt public works sprays during snowstorms, liquid calcium also is used on dirt roads in spring and summer to keep down dust.

Lloyd’s department typically budgets about $100,000 annually for road salt and about $12,000 for sand. He said his workers save the town a significant amount of money by sifting sand themselves rather than buying sifted sand with rocks and other debris already removed.

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