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Local contractors say New London pier dispute is limiting road salt supply across Connecticut

But towns and the state DOT say they have enough on hand to handle this week's storms.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Some local contractors are calling for more diverse options in where they get their road salt.

This comes as some claim to have waited for hours just to get one load of salt on their trucks ahead of Sunday’s winter storm -- and according to those contractors, that one load won't be enough.

John Vasel said, "If there is no salt then obviously the public is going to be compromised."

During an interview with Vasel, another contractor named Peter Niro said, "Not even close, I need triple what I picked up today. I had 10 trucks getting salt for me... I need 40."

Both contractors say they had the same issue; Vasel with JV 3 Construction and Niro with All State Landscaping tell FOX61 they waited hours just to pick up one load of salt before the upcoming winter storms.

Peter Niro said, "There was about 500 trucks lined up here earlier today, we sat in line from 7 this morning till 5-oclock to get one load of salt and their starting to raise their prices they already have signs in there that the prices are going up."

Frustration echoed by John Vasel with J.V. 3 Construction who says he has no choice but to buy from Gateway Terminal.

Gateway, at last check, is the only supplier for salt in the state after another salt provider, DRVN Enterprise Inc., was shut down by the state to make way for pier reconstruction in New London, where DRVN Enterprise was based.

Vasel says this lack of access to a different source of materials is not only making it harder for more distribution of salt but is costing private contractors money.

Vasel said, "We had 10 trucks here for almost 10 hours from the time we left our shop to the time we got loaded. It cost me approximately 10-thousand dollars just to get loaded with a load of salt... 10-thousand dollars."

FOX61 reached out to Gateway Terminal for comment; they responded on Sunday with this statement:

“To our valued customers and fellow Connecticut residents – please be assured that Gateway Terminal has an adequate supply of salt for the balance of the winter. The extreme winter weather has led to a significant increase in salt demand, resulting in longer than usual wait times to access salt at Gateway Terminal. We ask our customers to please plan accordingly as we work hard to alleviate any delays in service. We put the safety of our community as our top priority. We strongly urge everyone to exercise safety and avoid driving during hazardous conditions.”

Reacting to the news of lack of salt supply, DRVN Enterprise apologized to contractors saying it's now unfortunately out of their hands.

Steven Farrelly said, "I'm usually able to help them out so here we are in a situation, we have no more salt and I'm receiving hundreds of phone calls and I'm telling them there is nothing I can do, I have no salt."

New London's mayor says losing DRVN Enterprise was a hit to the city, but they are prepared to treat roads.

Mayor Michael Passero said, “New London is well-positioned right now to get through the winter, within budget we only used about 60-percent of our supply."

The same goes for the state's department of transportation who say they have more than enough materials to treat roads.

DOT Spokesperson Kevin Nursick said, "We have plenty of salt on-hand at roughly 50 DOT satellite facilities across the state and we have additional materials stockpiled as well if we needed to tap into those."

Officials say for those going out into the wintery storm to be careful and drive safe.

Mayor Passero said, "We're hoping that folks will stay in, in the morning give the crews a chance to get the salt down, we don’t think there will be a lot to plow, but we want if there is freezing rain to we do want to get the salt on the road."

Contractors that we spoke to say that they will continue to provide as much salt on the roadways as possible, but they do urge drivers that need to get out during this week’s snowstorm to be careful.

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