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Article updated: 2/3/2014 11:24 PM

Carol Stream takes steps to conserve salt supply

By Joshua Welge

As the area braces for the next round of snow, Carol Stream is taking measures to conserve its salt supply.

The village board on Monday approved a recommendation to limit which streets are salted.

Streets salted will be excluded to main streets or collector streets, which are streets that function as a feeder from a region of limited traffic to a major highway or street.

Streets that intersect with a main or a collector will be salted, as will hills, curves and school zones.

"We'll also give our drivers discretion if they come across a spot that is particularly dangerous or icy for any reason," said Phil Modaff, Director of Public Works. "They could hit that spot. And any time we get a call from police with a spot we didn't cover we could respond to that request."

The village already put in some mild conservation measures last weekend, when Carol Stream was hit with close to 5 inches of snow. Courts and cul-de-sacs were no longer salted, and salting was not done until the final pass of village snow plows went through. Modaff reported that they were able to reduce salt usage by 30 percent, from 100 tons to 68.

Modaff said that might not be enough with forecasts predicting that February's weather could rival January, in addition to the typical March freezing rain and icy conditions.

"It's needed," Trustee Greg Schwarze said of the conservation measures. "I think it needs to be done."

Modaff rattled off statistics of what has been a brutal winter. Through the weekend the area has seen an average of 52 inches of snow, the fifth-highest through Feb. 1 since 1884. In January alone 34 inches, the third-most snowfall in the month in Chicago history.

Last year Carol Stream first plowed snow on Jan. 25. By Jan. 25 this year the village had plowed 19 times. In-house crews have worked over 2,500 hours fighting snow and ice, including nearly 2,000 hours of overtime.

More than 2,600 tons of salt have been used, including the application of 75,000 gallons of salt brine, a mixture of salt and water.

The price tag, excluding regular hours and equipment costs, has run approximately $400,000.

Modaff said that the village has taken its entire allocation of salt for the winter. It is not awaiting any additional deliveries and does not anticipate the availability of any additional salt. The village could cover the streets with brine in about two days when they're dry, but the measure is less effective when the streets are wet or already packed with snow.

Modaff said the village could consider further restricting its salt spreading as the winter progresses, or mix its salt with sand as other communities have done.

"This is a Chicago metropolitan area problem," Village Manager Joe Breinig said. "We're all struggling trying to get through the winter."

A list of streets that will be salted will be posted on the village's website.

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