Officials are struggling to find ways to keep pavements clear of snow and ice without breaking their budgets.
Heavy snow last year heightened demand for salt, and now many towns can’t find enough of it.
The shortage could force many cities to salt fewer roads, increasing the risk of accidents. Other communities are abandoning road salt for less expensive but also less effective sand or sand-salt blends.
The United States used a near-record 20.3 million tons of road salt last year, largely because areas from the Northeast to the Midwest had heavier-than-average snowfall. Parts of Iowa and Wisconsin got four to six times their typical amounts. Vermont, New Hampshire and other areas set records.
In Maine, some communities may be rationing their supplies when the snow season gets under way. Some Maine communities are even having a hard time finding salt vendors to submit bids.