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Utica DPW rations salt

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Utica DPW rations salt
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Municipalities across the country are learning to do more with less and in Utica, they're making every cent count. So with a very small budget to work with, the city's Department of Public Works is rationing its road salt and using it only when necessary. Our Cara Thomas tells us what some Utica residents think of this year's winter road conditions.

UTICA, N.Y. -- The roads in Utica were covered in slush and ice as the weather changed from snow to freezing rain on Monday. Department of Public Works crews were out plowing and salting the roads bright and early, but had one thing in the back of their minds: Conservation.

David Short, Commissioner of the Department of Public Works, said, "We've used about 3,000 tons of salt so far."

With only enough money to buy 5,000 more tons for the rest of the season, the DPW has decided to ration. They're plan is to salt main roads, intersections and hills regularly, but it's the back roads, cul-de-sacs and dead ends that may get a little less attention.

"I'm taking care of my mains first. Limiting my use on the secondaries just to make sure that, you know, if it's less than an inch of snow, I'm not blasting the secondaries with salt," said Short.

And they've thought about cheaper options. Using sand instead of salt or a mixture of both. But DPW officials say sand leaves a mess after the snow melts and is also known to clog the sewer drain systems.

"When you put it on paper to see what it's going to cost to clean it all up and everything, plus we're under decree by state Department of Environmental Conservation not to add anything into our system," said Short. "It's a no brainer, we don't use sand."

The decision to use their salt sparingly is getting mixed reviews from Utica drivers.

Utica resident John Gorea said, "They're using it in the right way, they're not just wasting the salt okay? They're using it in the right way and they're putting the material down as needed."

Heidi Ferdinand, who works in Utica, said, "I think they need to salt more. They need to salt the roads more, they need to clean them up more so that there's less accidents."

The Department of Public Works says they're expecting the weather to warm up a bit next week, giving them a chance to save some of their resources while letting Mother Nature clean up the roads for a while.

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