With salt supplies tight and prices high, many governmental agencies, including the City of Evanston, are trying out road salt conservation measures this winter.

Evanston has contracts for 8,600 tons of salt this season. That’s 3,000 tons more than used in a typical winter, but nearly 2,000 tons less than the city used last year.

So, the Streets and Sanitation division has implemented several operational changes to conserve salt:

  • Equipment modification. Wood panels are being added to smaller snow trucks to catch salt that falls into the truck bed around the spreader so 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 cut loss of salt from rain and moisture.
  • More snow routes. The number of snow routes has been increased from seven to nine to let drivers plow snow more quickly. By shortening the primary routes, crews can get to residential streets faster and may be able to plow before chemicals are needed or the snow freezes.
  • More pre-wetting with liquid deicer. Wetting salt with liquid deicer as it falls to the street means more salt sticks to the road where it’s needed and less bounces off onto parkways. City staff is working to equip more salt-spreading trucks with liquid deicing capabilities.
  • Modified salting of residential streets. This year residential streets will be spot salted at intersections and mid block. Vehicle traffic will carry the salt from those points to cover most of the block. Increased salting would occur when needed to mitigate hazardous areas.

Streets and Sanitation Director Suzette Eggleston says she believes these measures will ensure that the city has enough salt for the entire season regardless of salt supply issues or weather conditions, while still providing for safe travel for drivers.

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1 Comment

  1. Does Evanston use grit or just salt?
    Does anyone know, do we use grit as well as salt?
    And how much does grit cost?
    And what are the environmental impacts of grit?

    Reply:
    Hi Manon,
    My understanding is that the city sometimes does use sand, which is cheaper, but it’s considered a poor substitute for salt. Two reasons — while it provides traction, it doesn’t do anything to melt the snow — and when everything eventually melts away, the sand runs into sewer catch basins and fills them up, requiring more frequent cleaning.
    — Bill

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