State's largest salt barn under construction in Lincoln

State's largest salt barn under construction in Lincoln

LINCOLN - The largest salt barn in the state, currently under construction on George Washington Highway, should be ready to house up to 10,000 tons of salt by this winter, Rhode Island Department of Transportation officials said last week.

Joseph Baker, highway and bridge maintenance administrator, said he expects the $1.5 million project by Urbane Construction Corporation, of Cranston, to be completed in November or December.

Trucks will be able to drive straight through the 140-by-120-foot facility, allowing mechanics to make repairs away from snow and slush.

"The first of its kind in the state," Baker said, the barn meets new regulations from the Department of Environmental Management by having everything indoors, including the loading of the salt into the trucks.

Any salt and water melt from the trucks will be captured, and could be processed and reused as salt grind, he said.

The new site will make "a big difference for us," Baker said, because it will eliminate the need to store salt outside, covered by tarps.

And with an increase in salt storage capacity from 5,000 tons to 10,000 tons, it will also allow for DOT to adequately prepare for at least three storms per year, rather than having to move the state's 35,000 tons of salt from site to site, he explained.

"There will be a lot of cost savings going forward," he said.

The Lincoln site, just west of the intersection of Route 116 and Mendon Road in Cumberland, used to have a full-time garage for the entire district, Baker said, but it moved to the former National Guard location down Route 116 in Smithfield.

With that also came the sale of the state property and salt storage facility at the corner of Routes 7 and 116 to the town of Smithfield for $985,560, in 2009, as previously reported in The Breeze.

"With moving out of there, we still need a lot of salt," Baker said, noting the region is "part of the snow belt."

Two Lincoln structures - one from the 1940s and one from the 1980s - were demolished this summer, and a new foundation poured. The new facility will use the same 17 employees, Baker said.