NY road salt law raises concerns about costs, shortages

Some counties, cities and towns in New York worry they may soon not have enough salt to spread on the roads before, during, or after winter storms.

Dan Losquadro is the Superintendent of Highways for Brookhaven. While his town, which is responsible for some 3,700 lane miles, will be covered this winter, he has concerns about the future now that Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Buy American Salt Act.

The legislation, set to take effect in April, makes it clear that the state prefers officials to buy road salt domestically.

"Those mines can only produce so much material," Losquadro said.

Buy American Salt Act

Prior to the Salt Act, the majority of downstate localities including much of Long Island got their salt, typically imported from Chile, through a state contract from a distributor on Staten Island.

"If the state is going to be exclusively buying American product and those suppliers can’t meet the demand, or are going to increase their cost exorbitantly, what action is the state going to take?"

Amendments to the law were made to allow purchases of foreign salt when the domestic supply is insufficient or too costly but some towns still worry as they believe purchasing sold individually won’t be as cost-effective.

"If I have to absorb that cost one place that means I'm doing less someplace else," Losquadro said.

Brookhaven is paying about 33% more for salt compared to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The going rate per ton now is about $97.