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Posted on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

Ann Arbor stockpiling thousands of tons of street salt in anticipation of winter's arrival

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ann Arbor is preparing to purchase somewhere in the neighborhood of 6,325 tons of salt to control snow and ice accumulations on city streets this winter.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously last week to approve the bulk purchase, taking advantage of what city officials consider low prices.

Each year, the state of Michigan solicits a statewide bid for bulk ice control salt allowing those who participate to receive advantageous pricing, Craig Hupy, Ann Arbor's field operations manager, said in a memo to council members.


File photo

Morton Salt Inc. was the low bidder for the early fill-up portion of the bid and The Detroit Salt Co. was the low bidder for the seasonal backup. The city is expecting to pay $128,910 for 3,000 tons from Morton and $156,748 for 3,250 tons from The Detroit Salt Co.

That works out to $42.97 and $48.23 per ton, respectively.

Hupy said the city also has about 2,700 tons of salt remaining in storage from the prior year and will receive the early fill-up during the month of October.

Last year, the city's crews applied 7,011 tons of salt during the winter season. The city used 4,882 tons during the 2008-09 season, 8,500 tons during the 2007-08 season, 4,700 tons during the 2006-07 season, and 7,076 tons during the 2005-06 season.

Hupy said the approved contract allows the city to purchase up to 130 percent of the seasonal backup contracted quantity or only 70 percent of the contracted quantity.

If the city requires additional quantities beyond the 130 percent, it would be subject to market rates, which were as high as $140 per ton in January 2009, Hupy said. Current market rate pricing for ice control salt is about $94 per ton, he said.

"This rate is based on supply and demand, and most road salt used in Michigan is imported from other areas such as Ontario, Cleveland or Chile," Hupy wrote to council members.

Working within its policy for snow and ice control, Hupy said the city has a successful history of salt usage within contract limits and has not purchased salt at market rate in recent history.

In fact, the city actually has loaned salt to other local agencies in two of the past six years. In those cases, Hupy said, the agencies returned salt quantities loaned on a ton-for-ton basis.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.


Ann English

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 10:39 p.m.

On the deadly morning of January 7, 2006, the police did close eastbound M-14 just west of Barton Drive, where I got on it. Northbound driving was fine at regular speed, but eastbound driving had to be much slower, for it was slippery; a safe, reasonable speed on that stretch of the freeway was under 40 mph that day, in which Eric Namesnik and a firefighter named Amy died. bunnyabbot, you're the first one who I ever read, saying that M-14 between Newport Road and the west triple-decker was prone to be the site of many accidents on BOTH sides; more than once I've read of accidents reported to be in the WESTBOUND lanes, but at the BARTON DRIVE exit, which is off the eastbound lanes, so I can't figure out where an accident took place. You're implying that any accident reported in the westbound lanes could actually have taken place there. Exits 3 and 4 are unusually close together, and if you want to get off on Whitmore Lake Road, you'll probably exit alone, so you have to watch for it yourself. I hear that that is why accidents take place on eastbound I-94 at State Street; the exit lane appears out of nowhere, surprising motorists who don't notice the lane marking for it, too soon after rounding a bend in the road.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

need to clarify, m-14 traffic that merges with cars coming off of 23 (two lanes)


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:20 a.m.

I would say more accidents happen on the westbound lanes in the am and more happen in the eastbound lanes in the pm a lot of accidents happen on either side where m14 and us 23 overlap, usually fairly close to the triple-decker, I guess a car slidding off they road is something I consider as an accident. A one car accident.


Tue, Oct 25, 2011 : 3:03 a.m.

Ann, all accidents aren't reported in the news. I'm going by having lived in the area my whole life, seeing the back-ups, slow moving traffic just after an accident has taken place, the smushed cars on the side of the road, State Police vehicles, wreakers and fire trucks. In the winter heading into a2 traveling M-14 under the triple overpass merging w/ 23 traffic on your right it can be tricky, the left lane merges, then merges again in a short distance b/c the road gets down to two lanes before you would cross the river. Accidents happen here, before the center median wall begins, where the two sides of the highway still have grass between them. This merge btw is tricky as the road is angled so you really can't see the lane to the right easily in your normal set up of your side mirror (oh boy if that makes sense) and your merging into the "fast" lane of traffic... once in the far right hand lane if you want to get off at whitmore lake road that is fine, but the cars merging onto the highway that share the exit lane for the main street exit is where I see a lot of collisions. Several times during the winter there will be a car parked in the exit with a trooper behind them. Personally I could swear the lanes are actually narrowerer on the bridge. I have seen trucks scrape the wall. Several times this summer taking Main St onto M-14 which takes you over the bridge fire trucks were blocking traffic before the bridge, obviously as there had been accidents. (always seems to be on a friday!) or you just see misc. car parts, the tell tale sign that there was an accident since the last time you passed by. As for the other side, happy drivers pass under newport road, take the turn at full throttle and then freakout on the bridge with people merging from main st while people decide they want to get into the same lane to get off at the 15mile per hour barton drive exit. The problem exsists on both sides of the bridge, two cars cannot occupy the same space.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 8:16 p.m.

WOW! I'll alert the media!...oh wait...never mind.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

There is such a lack of understanding by the general driving public about clearing snow, what it takes, how it's done properly, and the judgment calls that have to be made in the middle of the night. Ya'll just want the roads to be perfect at all times or you aren't happy and are looking to lay blame. You just don't get it and I understand not getting it. It's something you don't get to understand until you have worked in the snow removal industry. This is not an insult but there is so much involved that people just don't get. Even the simple things like "why do they plow my driveway in" Have you ever stopped to think.....well. What else can they do? No. Things like..."why do they salt then it snows and they crape. Why not scrape then salt. They do that. Sometimes. It depends on what the temperatures are, and what they will be, and weather or not the snow would compact and stick to the road surface if they didn't pre treat. It makes it easier to get to a good safe surface once they do plow. Sometimes....It Snows More Than They Expected! The bottom line is that I think all snow workers do a great job, and they get my thanks and sometimes you just have to walk a mile in another mans shoes to know whats going on. In this case. Snow boots!


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

how about put some extra salt down on the cross walks? between the ice trying to cross the street and then those lovely new curbs that create giant (icy) puddles it's a wonder more people aren't hurt crossing the street (with walk signs of course).


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.

Wake me up when its Spring..


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

I should add that last year when I did see a salt truck (who wasn't even salting at the time) on M14 he crossed from the far right lane to the median lane on the far left so he could make the cut through to get on the opposite side of the road. That was some maniac driving. He caused about 8 cars to brake hard and slide, luckily no one slid off the road or hit eachother. But he never slowed down to make the cross over, never had his signal on and then once in the far left median took up half the left lane, this was too fast of a meanuver for drivers to make safe adjustments. Talk about oblivious driving.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 2:51 p.m.

The Washtenaw county and Ann Arbor governments have such illogical priorities it isn't even funny. I commute to work at approximately 4 am, and most mornings after a significant snow, the roads have not even been touched even if it stopped snowing 6 hours earlier. They apparently want to wait to cut down on overtime, and cut it closer to commuting time. Many of these mornings, the travel is difficult due to no work. Now, from spring through the fall, I see a street sweeper going through downtown Ann Arbor daily. Now god forbid, there be a gum wrapper on the street for more than 24 hours; the gum wrapper may cause a major impairment to travel. On New Years Eve of 2007, I was traveling from Westland back to Ann Arbor at about 2 am. There was a significant snow of about 6 inches, and the roads in Wayne county were slushy with maybe an inch of snow on it. I hit the Washtenaw country line on I94, and there is a full 6 inches of untouched snow on the interstate. There were only ruts from vehicles that had traveled a major interstate, and no signs of any snow plows. I saw several vehicles which had lost control and went into the medians. Both Ann Arbor and Washtenaw county need to prioritze. I have lived in many Midwest locations including the northwest suburbs of Chicago, La Crosse Wisconsin, Ames Iowa, and Hasting Nebraska, and I can definitively state that Washtenaw county is the worst by far for snow removal. It may be time to vote out the county commissioners who don't have a clue.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

We could go back to snow chains. While it "might" reduce accidents, it would turn the roads to rubble. Probably not real cost effective for road funding the state desperately already needs.

rusty shackelford

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

Salt is fine, but just plow the roads! It's unbelievable how poorly A2 plows compared to other, equally snowy places. And their attitude about it is equally poor as the local government's attitude seems to be about everything: "We know better than you do even though every other comparable place does it the way you're suggesting." Also, strenuously fine property owners who don't shovel and salt their sidewalks. It gets really old really fast trudging to work in inches of snow--not to mention the several times I almost broke my tailbone. I can't imagine what it's like for old people or people with trouble walking. It's both a significant quality of life problem and a way the city could infuse itself with some cash.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

Great scream name (at least to the tv show reference), btw

Ron Granger

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

Pile it right in front of City Hall and tell them they've got another art exhibit just for them!

zip the cat

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

The missing salt was from a county yard on pontiac trail,,if I am not mistaken


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

didn't a whole bunch of salt "go missing" last year or the year before, I mean a lot of salt? wasn't that in a2? why no mention of it here? hopefully they'll remember to LOCK it up.

zip the cat

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

And once again the city will waste more than half of that anount because they SALT first then for what ever reason they wake up and plow all the salt to the curb,then have to salt again. Its scrape first anything more than a inch of new snow,then salt. Salting 4-6 inches of snow makes about as much sence as a screen door in a submarine. I see them doing it every year. You don't see the county salting first,unless its a inch or less they scrape then salt

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 10:48 a.m.

The winter snow removal and salt usage policy in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County is another good example of a false economy where government skimps on what is necessary to "save" money and imposes costs on citizens through higher accident rates and higher insurance rates. According to a Vice President of the Detroit Salt Company I talked to, Washtenaw County buys less salt per capita than *any* other county in the *entire* Midwest! My wife, who commutes to Royal Oak for work in an SUV, sees the accidents on M-14 when it's snowy or icy and she's had too many near tragedy close calls with other drivers losing control. The cars skid off the road and sometimes get stacked up on M-14 like angle parking in the ditch. Ask the families of people who have totaled their car or ended up in rehab (or died) if they think the County Road Commission and the City of Ann Arbor's policy of not plowing the roads unless there is four (?) or six (?) inches of continuous snowfall is a wise choice of a place to save a several hundred thousand dollars! This is one area where we need our local government to spend more money not less.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

"According to a Vice President of the Detroit Salt Company " This is somebody who has no reason for more salt to be used


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Thank you for pointing that pout Racer. I don't think anyones listening but nicely done.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

Didn't know it was Ann Arbor's job to salt M-14? Is this the same person running for council? Not that it has anything to do with his comments. Just wondering. Thought this article was about the city of Ann Arbor, not Washtenaw county, which includes; Pittsfield, Saline, Dexter, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, etc., so the point about Washtenaw county buying less salt is a moot point about what Ann Arbor salts or doesn't.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

I disagree about the SUV comment regarding those are the crazy drivers. Crazy drivers are crazy drivers regardless of what kind of auto they are driving. I make the M-14 drive into town several times a week during rush hour. I have seen SUVs and compact cars in the ditch/side of road, involved in accidents and more compact cars than SUVs were involved. Do people in general need to slow down, YES. They do, that is why there are more accidents in the morning along that stretch in my opinion than in the evening when people are less like rushing. I hate making this drive. Last year I hit a patch of black ice while everyone was slowing down because of an accident up the road, was I speeding before hand no, I wasn't even going the speed limit, I was well below b/c the conditions dictated it. I hit that ice and fish tailed multiple times, had I had less experience driving I would have gone off the road traveling at 35 mph. Excluding this event I can say that I hate making that drive in the winter, crappy plowing and lack of salting is evident on a routine basis. There is almost a guarantee that there will be an accident on a daily basis along that stretch, many times they happen where 14 and 23 merge just before you'd exit onto main street. The area is prone to accidents on both sides during good conditions. Complaining about SUVs is one thing, but the complaints about the road conditions in the winter is still very valid.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

I have seen many accidents on M-14 between Ann Arbor and Plymouth. It seems year after year, there is not a lot of effort put into salting that stretch of highway. @TDW-yes people in SUVs or trucks with 4-wheel drive to tend to have a certain mentality. Soem , but not all of them. However, 4 wheel drve CAN improve traction, which subsequently CAN improve driveability. 4 wheel drive CANNOT change the laws of physics. That's what people should understand and drivers should exercise common sense (yes, that seems to be an inflamatory term nowadays) and drive with caution with the conditions.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 1:14 p.m.

Heaven forbid ANYONE should use their head and drive more cautiously! Too many lazy people will not get up earlier on snowy days they just plan on driving faster. Every morning all summer long there are accidents on the freeway belt around town. What is the excuse then?


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Oops left out the word " mentality " you really need to add a edit option


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

You'll notice a large number ( if not most ) are SUVs.I think they have the " I'm in a 4x4 I can drive however I want ".A 4x4 will get you moving It does not improve handling and can even make it worse.


Mon, Oct 24, 2011 : 10:41 a.m.

So the two-step purchase is done every year, or is this the first time?