Road salt in short supply for Illinois communities preparing for upcoming winter

Road salt in short supply for Illinois communities preparing for upcoming winter

CARTERVILLE, IL (KFVS) - More than four counties in southern Illinois have lost bids to buy road salt from the state, requiring communities to look elsewhere for winter preparation supplies.

Carterville Mayor Brad Robinson says that the City of Carterville as well as many other cities and villages across Illinois have place road salt bids through the Illinois Department of Central Management Services.

Williamson, Jackson, Saline and Union counties will not receive salt through the CMS bid, Robinson said. The mayor said it is forcing towns and villages across southern Illinois to purchase road salt from private vendors.

“CMS offers local governments the opportunity to save time and money when purchasing many commodities, services and equipment,” according to the CMS website. “Ranging from car parts to bulk electricity to rock salt to computer hardware and software.”

Robinson said he received notification several weeks ago that communities in Williamson county, including Carterville, would not receive salt through the state bid process. Robinson said the road salt is not available.

“If we have a similar winter [as 2013] and this is the only salt that we can procure, it’s going to be very difficult to maintain streets and keep them passable,” Robinson said.

Salt prices have nearly doubled according to Robinson. Last year, The City of Carterville paid $65 per ton of salt. This year, the city is paying $119 per ton.

Robinson attributes the rising cost to last year’s harsh winter. He said the city will purchase salt from a private vendor and that there may not be enough salt to purchase if southern Illinois experiences another harsh winter.

“We’re not going to be able to coat entire streets and subdivisions,” Robinson said. “We just won’t have enough salt.”

Near this time last year, the City of Carterville bought an initial 60 tons of road salt. The 2013 winter forced the City of Carterville to buy another two loads of salt during the winter.

The city of Carterville has bought 75 tons of road salt in preparation for this coming winter. Under the current winter plan, only intersections, hills, valleys and known dangerous areas will salt be applied, Robinson said.

Illinois communities like Carterville may have to resort to purchasing cinders if vendors run out of salt, Robinson said. With the rising demand for salt, he said, there is a possibility that cinders will be in a high demand.

Benefits to road salt is that it helps to melt snow and ice, Robinson said, whereas cinders are place on top of packed snow to provide traction.

If the 2014 winter is as harsh as 2013 and salt or cinder supplies run out, Robinson said the City of Carterville will concentrate on running snow plows more than usual. If necessary, he said, the city will reach out to neighboring communities for assistance.

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