COLUMBUS -- Recognizing that a significant number of local communities have been unable to access salt for this winter driving season, the Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is expanding his department's Smart Salt Strategy to share some of the state's supply with counties and local communities. By adjusting its resources across the state, ODOT will ration 100,000 tons of salt from its stockpiles, allowing for a one-time sale of this material to counties and local communities which were unable to secure salt contracts. ODOT Director James Beasley has worked with the County Engineers Association of Ohio, the Ohio Municipal League, and the Ohio Township Association to identify communities in need of assistance. An initial survey revealed a need of about 70,000 tons of salt. Under this Local Salt Assistance Plan, the first priority will be to maintain an adequate supply of salt for the safety of travelers on State Routes, U.S. Routes and Interstates that ODOT must maintain. Off the state highway system, priority will then be given to counties and local communities that had previously signed up to participate as part of ODOT's competitive bidding process but were unable to buy salt due to a lack of bids. Communities that responded to ODOT's initial salt assessment survey will then be given an opportunity to participate. If there is any material remaining after addressing the needs of those who have previously been a part of ODOT's process, any community in the state will be given the opportunity to purchase salt on a one-time, first come, first serve basis. With a few exceptions, the price for salt under this plan will be $75 per ton, based on ODOT's contract price and cost for shifting resources to accommodate this Smart Salt Strategy. In order to be as fair as possible and to avoid shortages, ODOT will determine the location from which a local community can purchase salt. Since the 1930s, rock salt has been the most-utilized, cost-effective, ice-fighting material for keeping roadways safe. However, Ohio has seen a dramatic spike in the price of rock salt this year, ranging from 50 percent to 300 percent cost increases. Having the unique ability to stockpile salt over the past year, ODOT purchased a significant amount of material at last season's prices. Then through its competitive bidding process this season, ODOT secured contracts for additional salt deliveries. With the increased cost of salt and a growing demand to be more environmentally sensitive with its use, ODOT also put together a Smart Salt Strategy -- designed to make certain that the department is as efficient as possible with the salt on hand while still ensuring continued safety on our roads.