As snowy and frigid winter storms continue to strike in the Chicago area, some municipalities are rationing their salt supplies, but Chicago officials say the city’s salt supply is just fine.
The Chicago area has seen an exceptionally snowy season, recording one of the snowiest months on record and, following the region’s deep freeze, road salt has become even more vital.
Naperville alerted residents Friday, ahead of a weekend snow storm, that the regional salt shortage prompted the city to implement a “salt conservation plan.”
The Department of Public Works planned to supplement the salt supply by mixing in sand for secondary roadways.
Naperville receives its salt supply through the Illinois Joint Purchasing Program, and officials said the city has received only 4,600 of the 12,000 tons ordered.
To date, the City has responded to 31 winter events and spread 16,000 tons of salt. In comparison by the end of January 2013, the City had responded to seven winter events and spread 4,300 tons of salt.
Dan Breier from Ice Melt Chicago said Thursday that barges were stuck near Peoria and unable to get salt supplies to the Chicago area.
“They are trying to get salt barges into terminals as close to Chicago as possible, primarily in St. Louis and Iowa,” he said, noting the cost of salt has risen because of the shortage.
The village of La Grange advised residents last week that it planned to modify salt operations to “conserve the remaining inventory of salt.”
“The Village will be taking a stair step approach to salt conservation unless we are able to locate more salt for purchase,” a press release from the village read. “The first step, which will be implemented with the next winter event, will be to salt arterial and collector streets and salt only intersections on residential side streets. The next step will be to mix sand with the salt to improve traction and to only apply deicing chemicals to main roadways.”
But Mayor Rahm Emanuel, at a press event Saturday at McCormick Place, which houses the city’s salt, met with commissioners on snow removal efforts and said the city has enough salt to keep roads safe.
IDOT spokeswoman Jae Miller said the department is not cutting back on salt spreading and that the amount of salt used to treat roads depends on the weather.
Miller also noted that "IDOT has an adequate supply of salt at this time and we have not problems with availability from vendors."