PETERSBURG, Mich. - The Monroe County Road Commission soon will have a new weapon in the battle against snow and ice.
Howard Penrod, road commission manager, said construction of a storage facility that will house up to 10,000 tons of road salt is scheduled to begin this week in Summerfield Township.
More than half of the cost to build the storage barn, which will be similar to the one at the road commission garage on South Telegraph Road in Monroe, will be paid with a state grant.
The road commission, which handles removal of snow and ice from state routes in the county, received the $350,000 grant in January from the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The facility will be built on land owned by the road commission near U.S. 23. The agency bought the 48-acre parcel several years ago. The $506,800 bid from Envision Builders of Wixom, Mich., was below what the road commission believed the storage barn would cost.
When completed, the Summerfield Township site will be the road commission's third storage facility, replacing a dilapidated structure in Dundee that holds 4,000 tons.
The Bedford Township barn holds about 2,500 tons and the storage facility in Monroe holds 10,000 tons.
Mr. Penrod said the new salt barn will give the road commission the luxury of buying more salt at preseason rates, which typically are several dollars per ton less than later in the winter.
Because of inadequate storage space, the road commission had to buy salt throughout the season.
"What is nice about this structure is that we will have the ability to store 22,500 tons of salt," he said. "That will give us enough to get through most average years."
The road commission, which buys salt through the state, paid $43,50 per ton at the preseason rate, $2.73 more than last year.
Salt bought later in the season this year will cost the road commission $51.88, or nearly $8 more than that it paid earlier, Mr. Penrod said.
With those figures, Mr. Penrod said that only purchasing salt at the early season rate would allow the road commission to recoup the construction costs of the new building in less than 10 years.