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Salt shortage hampers snow cleanup

Evanston’s public works chief says the city’s streets are not as clear as they’d normally be the morning after a snowstorm because of a salt shortage.

David Jennings says that on Wednesday "our salt supplier notified us that they could not honor the balance of our current order, about 1,100 tons, due to difficulties in getting their supply of salt to the distribution point that serves us."

In addition, he said the city is "over our allocation and there are many communities who are not that will be supplied when the salt arrives. "

"We ordered 2,000 tons before the salt ‘rationing’ was to take place in this area, so we thought we would be covered.  However, with the current development, we were not," he added.

Jennings says city crews have stopped salting residential streets, but are continuing to plow.  "This means that most of these streets will develop “snowpack” which is smooth in some areas, but tends to rut and develop a washboard surface as traffic packs it down."

"We have cut our salt with sand and Geomelt, an environmentally friendly liquid deicer applied to the salt, to extend the life of the salt supply.  We are only using this on arterial streets and hills and curves.  Also, we are applying this sparingly when we do use it," he said.

He said the city has also stopped selling salt to agencies included Northwestern University and the local school districts that it normally sells salt to.

In addition, he said, "We are switching to a different product than rock salt for sidewalks, parking lots, and similar areas. It is more expensive, but at least it is available and will keep the areas much safer than not using anything."

Snow parking restrictions remain in effect.

Today crews are clearing the odd-numbered sides of residential streets between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. The even-numbered sides of residential streets are scheduled to be cleaned on Friday. Violators are subject to ticketing and towing.

Another overnight snow route parking ban will be in effect from 11 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. Friday, so work can continue on the arterial streets and business areas.

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