Arlington Heights public works officials have moved into a conservation phase of salt usage on village roads to ensure that there will be enough to make it through the rest of the winter season.
The village has 1,500 tons left of salt in its dome and is expecting another 700 tons to be delivered soon, but that will have to last until spring, said Scott Shirley, public works director. Since November, public works crews have responded to 22 snow and ice events and used more than 5,300 tons of salt, he said.
The conservation efforts will include salting priority streets with less salt than normal and salting only the intersections of secondary neighborhood roads, Shirley said.
For snowstorms that drop less than 2 inches, Arlington Heights would normally use salt to melt the snow rather than send out the plows, but with the short supply, crews will be out plowing even small amounts of snow to conserve salt, he said.
The village will also use more of its liquid de-icing mixture on roadways in place of salt.
Typically the village would use about 300 tons of salt per snow or ice event, but now they'll keep it to 100-120 tons per event, Shirley said.
"We're just trying to hedge our bet here," Shirley said. "We're not going to run out of salt, but we need to cut back for a period of time here until we can see a light at the end of the tunnel."
Buying more salt now would be expensive for the village, Shirley said. He received prices from two private companies of either $150 or $270 per ton of salt, much higher than the state-contracted price of $53.38 per ton.
But, Shirley said hopefully another purchase won't be necessary to get them through the season.
"Unless the second half is worse than the first half, we should be OK," he said.
It has been an expensive winter for suburbs all over the area, but Shirley said Arlington Heights is still under budget on overtime costs for the year.
With a few snow events in the forecast for the next few days, Shirley said they will do their best to keep the streets as safe as possible.
"If we have a storm that dictates it, we are going to go salt what we have to," he said.
Major roads in the village such as Arlington Heights, Golf, Palatine, Rand and Hintz are all handled by IDOT or the Cook County Highway Department.
"Someone who comes out of their driveway will get to a road that is salted within one or two turns," Shirley said. "People just have to be careful, as always, during the winter and drive according to the conditions."