CHICAGO (CBS) — State officials on Monday said road crews are ready for whatever Mother Nature has to throw at us over the next few months.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports it cost the state of Illinois $131 million last winter to plow and salt roads throughout the state – approximately $45 million of that in the six-county Chicago area alone.

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“The agency spread 800,000 tons of salt across the state, over 320,000 tons in the six-county area alone,” Illinois Department of Transportation traffic bureau chief Steve Travia. “If necessary, we have access to over a million tons, if required.”

IDOT, Illinois State Police, and other experts said the best way to make it through winter, without any problems on the road, is to think ahead: ask yourself if a trip is necessary, given the weather conditions. If so, drive safely, with no phone distractions; and carry emergency items such as a blanket, shovel, and windshield washing fluid.

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David James, a private meteorologist who provides forecasts for IDOT, said he doesn’t expect this winter’s snowfall to be as bad as last winter.

“Snowfall, it’s based on O’Hare. The normal for O’Hare is 36.7 inches. We’re saying about 37, and of course last year was 82,” he said.

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Officials also reminded drivers to keep clear of snow plows and salt spreading trucks when on the road this winter.