Glen Ellyn salt supply running low

As the region continues dealing with one of the coldest and snowiest winters in history, municipal officials in Glen Ellyn are wondering how to survive the rest of the season with limited salt supply.

Glen Ellyn expects to get 300 tons of salt delivered Tuesday, and it's the last of what the village will have on contract, says Public Works Director Julius Hansen.

"That is all the salt we have readily available for the rest of winter. We are running low, like probably everyone," he said. "Right now, it's very questionable if we'll have enough salt for the rest of winter or not."

The village has already used up the $100,000 typically budgeted for salt each year. The board of trustees recently approved another $123,000 for the public works department to purchase more, of which $23,000 has already been used.

Glen Ellyn has a state contract that allows the village to purchase up to a maximum of 1,800 tons of salt for the winter. As a backup, the village also has a contract with another supplier for up to 600 tons. Once Tuesday's delivery comes in, all that will be exhausted, Hansen said.

In order to get more salt, the village will have to go to another vendor, battling other municipalities that are likely also running short.

With the shortage, it looks as though the village may have to go out of state for salt, Hansen said, going as far as Iowa to get more. So far estimates are coming in at $140 to $230 per ton, compared to the $53 per ton the village paid at the beginning of the winter season.

"We've just been victims of circumstances with this really bad winter," Hansen said.

The best solution, he said, is to have more salt storage so the village can have more on hand to avoid emergency purchase in the middle of the winter season. The public works department recently proposed an $800,000 project to expand the salt storage facility so that it can fit 2,000 tons of salt instead of the current 800 tons. The idea is still being considered by the board of trustees.

Meanwhile, the crews on Monday were dealing with sub-zero temperatures and blowing snow.

"We have a very light, fine snow that's on the ground. We're finding that the streets are getting covered with wind-blown snow, and it's kind of constant that we have to go out and plow and keep the roads clear," Hansen said.

Crews are on 12-hour shifts, and it isn't unusual for an employee to drive 100 miles during a shift without leaving the village, he added.

"The drivers have been driving an endless amount of miles," Hansen said. "It's really taking its toll on the people, the equipment and the budget."
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