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As a result of the salt shortage and skyrocketing salt prices, many municipalities, counties and state agencies, including IDOT, are implementing a number of salt conservation measures this winter. A recent statement from the City of Evanston said that while the City “has a commitment of 8,600 tons of salt, which is 3,000 tons more than used in a typical Evanston winter, it is nearly 2,000 tons less than what was used for last year’s unusually heavy snow season.”

Because of this, according to the statement, the Streets and Sanitation division has implemented the following operational changes to conserve the City’s salt supply:

Equipment Modification

Modifications are being made to the back of the smaller snow trucks to catch the salt that falls into the bed of the truck around the spreader. The modification will involve placing wood panels that will catch the salt overflow so that it can be swept off the truck for use.

Crew Training

Equipment operators are being retrained on the quantities that each snow truck holds in an effort to reduce salt overflow.

Salt Dome Repairs

Several small holes in the salt dome were repaired in September to reduce any losses of salt from rain and moisture.

Expansion of the Number of Snow Routes

Staff has increased the number of snow routes from seven to nine. This will allow drivers to plow more snow more quickly. By shortening the primary routes, staff can get to the residential streets faster and may be able to plow before chemicals are needed or the snow freezes.

Increase in Pre-wetting with Liquid Deicer

Staff is working to increase the City’s liquid-deicing capabilities to ensure that salt spreads hit their intended targets. The liquid deicer that the City uses, Geomelt, can be used to pre-wet the salt as it falls to the street.

Pre-wetting the rock salt reduces the amount of salt used because wet salt sticks to the road and limits the amount of salt that bounces off the road. More salt on the road will result in more effective melting and less salt usage.

Modification to Salting of Residential Streets

Salting of residential streets has been modified to spot-salting each street at the intersections and mid-block.

Vehicle traffic will carry the salt from those points to cover most of the block. This will prevent the need for sanding, which provides traction but has no melting capability. Increased salting would occur when needed to mitigate hazardous areas.

City staff members say they believe these measures will ensure that the City has enough salt for the entire season regardless of salt supply issues or severity of weather, while at the same time providing for the safe travel of the motoring public.