Town ready for winter

Wilton is ready for what the Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts will be a colder winter than last year, with above-normal amounts of snowfall.

The town has more than 2,000 tons of rock salt stockpiled in its salt barn, said Mike Ahern, interim director of the Public Works Department. That is enough to handle 10 average-sized storms.

And at a price of $73.25 per ton, the same as last year, the department is ready to buy more rock salt as needed.

“We don’t anticipate any potential shortages, but it’s too soon to tell,” Ahern said.

He keeps hearing different predictions for the winter of 2017-18. One is that it will be wet, with temperatures down, and sloppy. The other is that it will be colder and snowier.

One thing that is known is the size of the job. The department is responsible for 14 local plow routes of about 10 miles each, which require the large main public works trucks with large plow blades, with smaller plow trucks available for parking lots and other smaller areas.

Plowing both directions means trucks have to travel double the length per leg. The northern section of town often takes the longest because trucks have to refill salt and sand supplies back in the center of town.

In a storm situation they often work their regular day shift and are either called back later that night or in the wee hours of the morning to begin storm prep. The town has one crew, which means it stays in town throughout the storm event, whether 10 or 24 hours.

A typical snowstorm uses up 200 tons of rock salt. An extended snowstorm will use up to 500 tons.

The town does not use the blue liquid ice melt, though.

“We’ve had good results using rock salt,” Ahern said.

Some local towns, like Ridgefield, no longer use salt.