Crews see shortages in winter weather supplies

Crews see shortages in winter weather supplies

With six more weeks of winter still to go, Heartland counties are nervously watching their budgets and supplies grow smaller and smaller.

Like many southern Illinois counties, the Pulaski County highway department is doing its best to stay out of the red while still keeping roads clear.

The Pulaski County highway department says they're down to their last few piles of salt, just enough to fill four truck beds.

And with more winter weather in the forecast, they are struggling to keep up.

Snow, ice and county roads make for a bumpy ride sitting shotgun in a snow plow.

"This road we worked on it last night until about midnight," said operator Bill Britton.

But while the piles of snow get higher and higher in Pulaski County, the salt piles are disappearing.

"That would be enough to do four trucks, one scoop each," Britton said.

Less than 50 tons of salt is how much crews have left to use in order to maintain nearly 400 miles of roads.

"We won't be able to clear the roads like we have been normally, and that's what you run into," said Britton.

But the county has faced this problem before.

When there's no more salt, crews lay down cinders, which create better traction for drivers, but doesn't help melt the snow and ice.

This translates to more hours in the truck.

"The longer we have to stay out there, the longer the trucks have to run, the more diesel fuel you have to use, the more man hours you have to be out there, so it's just a vicious cycle all the way around," Britton said.

The county has already had $50,000 cut from their budget for 2014.

Problems most Illinois counties are facing.

"I get a little nervous when I run out of salt and cinders, plus that makes the truck lighter and it doesn't get as good of traction; as long as you keep the trucks loaded you get good traction that way," Britton said.

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