NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH)– Long lines continued Monday morning as private contractors waited outside the Gateway Terminal to pick up road salt. There is no shortage of salt but now that a salt business out of New London has had to shut down there is only one place many can get their salt supply.
Truck drivers waiting outside the Gateway Terminal in New Haven were in for the long haul.
“Sat in line for eight hours, nine hours and we got one load. I could use 20 loads,” said Peter Niro of All State Landscape Services.
Not only was the wait time long but so was the drive time for many. Last week DRVN Enterprises sold out of its salt supply at the State Pier in New London leaving private contractors and many towns only one option for their road salt supply.
“Montville, North Stonington, Lyme, Old Saybrook,” said Michelle Farrelly, who shared with News 8 a four page list of customers served by DRVN Enterprises.
She says her husband Steve opened his salt business in New London eight years ago to provide a closer alternative to the New Haven suppliers.
“It’s like you can’t go to one hospital or one grocery and everybody’s there in the whole state. It just doesn’t work,” said Farrelly.
She claims after the state announced plans to develop the State Pier as a state of the art hub for the offshore wind industry and Gateway Terminal chosen to operate it her husband’s salt company was driven out.
“The first ship came in this is the truth. 55 percent they went up on unloading of the ship. Cost my husband $500,000 more to unload it,” said Farrelly.
That last shipment of salt that DRVN was able to get was about a year ago and because of the mild winter for most of the year there was a huge pile of salt in New London until it was all sold away. The last morsel left that location on Thursday.
“It’s not even ready to start,” said Farrelly. “Why couldn’t we even have finished the winter out? Why couldn’t my husband have brought another one in.”
The only option for many now is New Haven.
In a statement Gateway Terminal said there is no shortage of salt and the average wait time is about two and a half hours.
- Morton and Champion serve the State of Connecticut DOT and municipalities; Gateway serves private contractors.
- Gateway has not increased prices, despite what has been reported.
News 8 also reached out to Gateway, the state, and the Connecticut Port Authority about the decision to end salt distribution in New London. Farrelly says losing their business has been tough on their family and many customers too.
“Oh I cannot even tell you because don’t get me crying,” said Farrelly.
In a statement Monday night, Gateway Terminal said:
To our valued customers and fellow Connecticut residents, we want to clarify and correct some recent news coverage and the misconception that there is a lack of salt supply and that prices have increased for local contractors.
For over 30 years, Gateway has provided terminal services and storage to global salt companies. We currently have two customers – Morton Salt and Champion Salt – who operate out of our New Haven terminal, using it as a storage facility for their salt distribution operation. These two companies supply salt to the State of Connecticut DOT and municipalities. In addition, Gateway provides salt supply to local, commercial contractors and landscapers, which is a materially smaller market relative to the DOT and municipal market. Selling salt to the commercial market is a small portion of Gateway’s overall business activity.
We want to stress that there is no shortage of salt – Gateway, Champion, and Morton all have an ample supply for the winter. There is another 55,000 tons of salt being unloaded later this week, with a second vessel expected before mid-March.
Gateway has not increased prices for our customers, despite what has been reported. We had a previously planned increase as a result of the increase in our cost to purchase salt, but that did not go into effect and was suspended indefinitely. Even though our cost to purchase salt has increased (freight rates have increased materially, increasing our salt purchase price), we have decided to keep prices unchanged for as long as possible in an effort to help local contractors.
The extreme winter weather has led to a significant increase in salt demand, which resulted in longer than usual wait times to access salt at Gateway Terminal over the weekend. In addition to demand from Connecticut commercial contractors, out-of-state contractors who were unable to secure salt in their respective states have turned to New Haven to source their supply, further increasing demand and wait times over this past weekend.
While the high volume of truck activity led to initial delays over the past week, we have dramatically reduced our wait times this week and will continue to work hard to meet the high demand. On average, Gateway is processing approximately 650 trucks per day: 500 for DOT and municipalities that are carrying Morton and Champion salt and 150 for local contractors and landscape companies from Gateway stockpile.
Current waiting times are approximately 2 – 2 1/2 hours for contractors, while DOT wait times are limited. Champion is open at 4:00 a.m. daily; Gateway and Morton are open at 6:00 a.m. daily. Extended hours are considered if the DOT sheds wish to remain open. DOT sheds are being kept full; therefore, we do not see any impacts to the highways or citizens of CT.
We are continuing to 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.”