Where does the town get its salt to treat icy roads in the winter?
From Morton’s salt, says Pete Hill, director of public works. But not like you have in your kitchen. “We use treated salt.” The state uses salt that is treated with magnesium chloride, which is highly corosive, he says. The salt Ridgefield uses is treated with a byproduct of sugar. “It’s environmentally friendly, and it makes the salt work to much lower temperatures.”
Starting in November, the town begins receiving deliveries from Gateway Terminal in New Haven, eventually filling its large storage barn on South Street, across from the Goodwill trailer, with 4,000 tons of the treated salt.
The town has 16 large red trucks that it uses to spread the salt mixture over Ridgefield’s 190 miles of roadway. Each truck can hold enough mixture to cover 16 miles of road. “We don’t use any more salt if we get one inch or six inches of snow,” says Hill. So as cold and snowy as last winter was, we did not necessarily have a much higher demand. “The snow didn’t start until mid-January and since it was very cold, it stayed around a long time,” he says, but we only ended up using about 500 tons more than the 4,000-ton allocation.
Getting replenished mid-winter can be an issue, says Hill. “It can take a few weeks.” In the past the town has had to borrow salt mixture from other towns. “We have never run out, but we have come close,” says Hill. “Danbury and Thomaston have helped us out in the past.”
What will this winter be like? “I’ll let you know in April,” says Hill, with a smile.