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A Grain of Salt

When winter storms hit, State and McCreary County Road Department employees literally take life with a grain of salt.

With plenty of salt stockpiled in barns at both the State Highway Garage and McCreary County Road Department Garage, employees have kept busy spreading approximately 250,000 tons of salt and clearing roads blanketed by up to nine inches of snow during last week’s winter storm.  In addition to the unusually large amount of snow, road employees have also been dealing with below freezing temperatures which have left many roads and highways covered in sheets of ice.

Beginning on Sunday the fifteenth, the day before the storm hit, ten McCreary County Road Department employees have worked ten consecutive days with only one day off, averaging seventy-two hours.  With six trucks operating, scraping and salting roads throughout the storm, crews at first focused on black topped roads and areas where individuals with home health care requirements were located.

The Road Department is now focusing on roads and streets in outlying areas.

McCreary County Road Department Supervisor Roger Moore commented on the difficulty of clearing the “chip and seal” roads.

“It’s impossible to use a scraper on chip and seal roads without tearing the roads to pieces,” Moore observed.  “In addition, we can’t use salt on chip and seal because it breaks down into something like quick sand causing us to have to build the roads back up.  The only alternative is to use sand and gravel and spread it by hand.”

In addition to the large amount of salt stocked at the State Highway Garage,  the County Garage, despite last week’s storm, remains well stocked with 250,000 tons of salt and 50,000 more tons expected to arrive from Knoxville this week.  The County Garage is also stocked with sand and gravel.  Moore said funds are available for more salt.

“When this is all over, I’ll start stockpiling for next season,” Moore explained.  “We fill the barn and then put 200,000 additional tons of salt on reserve in preparation for the next year.”

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