42 tons of salt donated to parish for road efforts

By JEAN L. McCORKLE jkaess@daily-review.com

A St. Mary Parish salt company helped keep the parish’s roads open during Tuesday’s freezing temperatures.
North American Salt Company’s Cote Blanche Mine near Cypremort Point in St. Mary Parish donated about 42 tons of rock salt to the St. Mary Parish government to de-ice bridges and overpasses during the winter storm.
Homeland Security Director Duval Arthur said, “When (Parish President) Paul Naquin called them, we were at wits’ end because the state said they couldn’t get their hands on salt. The guy over there said, ‘I’ll donate the salt,’” Arthur said.
Don Brumm, vice president of operations for Cote Blanche Mine, said they were pleased to assist the community.
“We wanted to help provide safe passage for our neighbors, families and employees here in St. Mary Parish,” he said.
Department of Transportation and Development spokeswoman Deidra Druilhet said any time the department goes through its materials, it is appreciative of donations.
“It’s a community effort,” she said. “It’s a partnership so that we can get traffic flowing through the parish.”
Druilhet said parish trucks delivered the salt to the transportation department.
“We were able to utilize that salt throughout St. Mary Parish, and it really did help a lot because all of 90 through St. Mary is open to traffic,” Druilhet said.
Rock salt works by lowering the temperature at which water turns to ice. When rock salt is applied to an icy street, it begins to form brine. The brine will not freeze until temperatures reach as low as 5 degrees, depending on the concentration. Because the brine created by the rock salt keeps new ice from forming and prevents ice from bonding with the roadway, rock salt is often applied in advance of a storm.
Bo LaGrange, parish chief administrative officer, said “We deeply appreciate Cote Blanche Mine’s generosity in donating this product for use in keeping the parish’s roads and bridges open.”
The state Department of Transportation and Development used the salt to fulfill their objective of keeping La. 182 from freezing while attempting to keep U.S. 90 open as long as possible.
Randy Abshire, superintendent of St. Mary Parish for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said Tuesday at midday, “We don’t have the manpower to keep U.S. 90 open. If we stay on top of that, we’ll be fine. The objective is to keep 182 open. We don’t have the manpower to keep 90 and 182 open. We’re going to keep 90 open as long as we can. We’re going to monitor it … we have barricades in place to close off the onramps so no one can get on it once it’s freezing over.”
That is what happened, and St. Mary Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Traci Landry said as of 6:40 a.m. roads were open from Centerville to Baldwin, including the U.S. 90 bridges in Morgan City and Amelia. The bridges were closed for about 13 hours starting at 5 p.m., but the La. 182 bridge through Morgan City never closed through the efforts of the state highway department and the National Guard.
There were no weather-related accidents reported on the eastern end of St. Mary Parish and only one in the west end, police officials said.
“Everything was quiet and clear,” Berwick Police Chief James Richard said.

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