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More Snow To Stretch Already Thin Salt Supplies

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Dorothy Tucker Dorothy Tucker
Dorothy Tucker has served as a reporter for CBS 2 Chicago since 1984....
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(CBS) — The forecasted snow is the last thing towns with busted budgets need. The long winter is forcing towns and villages to stretch their salt supplies.

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports they’ve used 1600 ton more than usual this winter in Arlington Heights. What’s left must last until the end of the season, so emergency conservation measures they instituted last month when salt was dangerously low is now the norm.

“We switched to, on our secondary routes, salting of intersections only,” said Chris Papierniak, Assistant Director Public Works for Arlington Heights.

“We also have reduced salt use to make sure that it can last. In previous years we used to put 400 pounds per mile this year we went down to as low as 200 pounds per mile.

Municipalities across the Chicago area continue to take steps to stretch salt. In places like Homewood, Maywood, and Oak Park, they no longer salt side streets. Skokie stopped salting subdivisions. Naperville cut out salt on cul de sacs.

In Rolling Meadows they’ve already started filling trucks for tonight, but not as many.

Our plan is to bring in four people in trucks in rather than standard eight,” said Rolling Meadows Director Of Public Works Fred Vogt. “Less salt is used when we have fewer trucks in the overnight hours.

For all of the municipalities the strategy for stretching makes a difference.

“It helps us for tonight and whatever happens the rest of the winter,” said Papierniak.

Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) spokesperson Jae Miller says, unlike many suburbs, the state has an “adequate” supply of road salt and can get more quickly if it’s needed. Plows will be working through the night, but Miller says the timing of the storm, which is expected to dump 1 to 2 inches of snow an hour at its height, will probably mean a slow commute.

She is urging motorists to take public transportation or to stay home, if that is an option. And she is urging motorists who are driving in the vicinity of IDOT plows to give them plenty of room, and to realize that they won’t go much faster than 30 miles an hour when plowing or salting, no matter what the conditions.

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