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Andrew Rush/NEWS A PennDot truck heads down one of the many rural roads in Lawrence County.

About 16 tons of road salt is expected to start making its way to Lawrence County this week.

Seventeen municipalities, unable to secure sufficient road salt supplies through usual vendors this year, have contracted with the state Department of Transportation to get through the winter. State officials have agreed to provide for 82,000 tons of salt from PennDOT’s Rochester garage.

Lawrence County Regional Council of Governments executive director Bob Callen met on Friday with PennDOT officials to establish pickup schedules for the local communities.

Paying $76.95 per ton, municipalities will start accepting a portion of their orders during the next few weeks. The municipalities are not required to accept the full order if the weather remains mild.

Ellwood City — obtaining 500 tons of salt today — will be the guinea pig, Callen said.

Since it is the first municipality to secure road salt, Callen said, there might be problems.

“We will determine the most efficient method to load, weigh and transport salt,” he said.

Callen estimated four or five 22-ton trucks leased by the municipality will make several trips over two days to obtain its order.

“We’re interested to see how the trucks will get in and out of the facility. We’re thinking a truck will pull in every 10 to 15 minutes. PennDOT is not accustomed to that amount of traffic.”

Like many municipalities, Callen said, Ellwood City does not have large dump trucks and will be contracting with haulers.

Each truck sent in today will be weighed prior to being loaded to ensure that each municipality receives what it ordered, he said.

Callen, who will oversee that operation, said he anticipates that future pickups will run smoother.

“Few municipalities have trucks large enough to be used to pick up orders, so most are contracting with haulers,” he said. “Over time, they’ll recognize the trucks and how much they will hold and the operation will be quicker.”

New Castle will be the second municipality served, he said. The city expects to pick up 1,250 tons of salt on Thursday.

“The rest will start coming down the week of Dec. 15,” Callen said.

Even though the area was hit with ice and snow over the weekend, Callen said, “None of the municipalities are out of salt. Bessemer might be low. I heard they borrowed from Mahoning Township and will repay them after they get their allotment.”

Mahoning Township Supervisor Francis “Poncho” Exposito said his municipality is in good shape.

“It’s just that we were able to get salt for $37 per ton last year and now it’s about $77. Our problem might be our budget later this winter if we get a lot of snow and need a lot of salt.”

Exposito said his township has salt left over from last winter and was prepared for the icy dusting last Saturday.

“We had no problem over the weekend. And we’ve got some big trucks that will haul 15 tons. We don’t think we’ll have to rent trucks.”

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