Report shows 11 salt storage facilities rate below fair condition in MDOT's Grand Region

The Ottawa County salt storage facility is rated in good condition. However, many facilities in central west Michigan are rated poor, according to a state report. (WWMT / Callie Rainey)

The Michigan Department of Transportation and counties across Michigan are working together to improve salt storage facilities. The effort was sparked by at a report from the state Officer of the Auditor General that showed 90 of the 189 county-owned salt storage facilities used by the state were in poor condition.

"The ones in this report belong to road commissions we contract with to do our maintenance," said Mark Geib, administrator of the state highway department's Operations Field Services. "Overall, they're not in good condition and we knew that."

Geib said a majority of the facilities in poor condition were built about the same time, 40 to 50 years ago.

"So all of the facilities are reaching or getting close to the end of their life at the same time, which is making it somewhat difficult to cope with," Geib said.

The facilities were rated on a five-point scale: good, fair, poor, critical or non-functional. The report also said that the facilities in need of repair would need between $500 and $228,000 of work each to restore them to good condition.

The Ottawa County Road Commission is one of the 64 counties where the state highway department contracts with the county for salt storage. The report shows the Ottawa County sheds are in good condition.

"We do the work for them and then they reimburse us for the material and labor that was used for those hours," said Alex Doty, communications administrator for the Ottawa County Road Commission.

Doty said poor facilities can be detrimental to the environment.

"The salt and other materials, that can get into wet lands and stuff like that. So to have it enclosed, that keeps the materials dry and free from getting wet and rained on," Doty said.

He also said poor storage facilities are bad for county budgets.

"You're going to end up paying more for your salt, because it washes away or it dissolves," Doty said.

At the end of the day, both Geib and Doty agreed that poor facilities also means poor road conditions for drivers.

"As a road gets worse we have to dedicate more time, effort and money to keep it in at least safe-driving condition for the public," Geib said.

According to the report, none of the salt storage facilities in the highway department's Southwest Region are rated in poor or critical condition. That region includes Kalamazoo and the six other far southwest Michigan counties. However, 10 facilities in the Grand Region were rated at poor, and one was rated in critical condition. The Grand Region covers 13 counties surrounding Grand Rapids. Among the salt storage facilities in that region that were rated in poor condition are the ones operated by the:

  • Baldwin South - Lake County Road Commission
  • Baldwin North - Lake County Road Commission
  • White Cloud East - Newaygo County Road Commission
  • White Cloud West - Newaygo County Road Commission
  • Hart South - Oceana County Road Commission
  • Jordan Lake - Ionia County Road Commission
  • Grand Rapids Central Complex - Kent County Road Commission
  • Stanton - Montcalm County Road Commission
  • Morley - Mecosta County Road Commission
  • Howard City - Montcalm County Road Commission
  • Ionia - Ionia County Road Commission

Geib said MDOT hopes to acquire more funding for the projects in the future.

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