Oak Park isn’t alone in scrambling to replenish dwindling salt stockpiles and conserve resources in the face of an unusually snowy winter. According to a memo from Public Works Director Greg Kramer to Village Administrator Steve Gutierrez, River Forest was informed, Jan. 31, that it would receive no more salt under a state procurement contract following the delivery of the last 80 tons this week.

Under that contract, the village is eligible to purchase 1,430 tons of salt from the state’s Central Management Service this winter at $40.67 per ton. The village used 1,276 tons all of last winter, and just 735 tons in 2005-06.

It doesn’t appear there’s any surplus salt to be had anywhere nearby. The village was informed last week that the Illinois Department of Transportation, which is responsible for salting the region’s expressways, will not be sharing any salt. Because barge traffic has been stalled by ice flows on the Illinois River, an additional 150 tons of salt, available through the village’s waste hauler, must be trucked up from Kentucky, with cartage fees nearly tripling the $40.67 per ton River Forest pays under the state contract.

The additional tonnage, along with 8,000 gallons of calcium chloride, will balloon River Forest’s salt budget by a third, from $58,358 to nearly $80,000. Kramer is hopeful, if cautious. Beyond main thoroughfares, he initially plans to salt only intersections on side streets, with additional salting if necessary. Sand will be used as a last resort.

“With some conservation and hopefully a reduction in the frequency of snow and ice events, this could perhaps get us well into the balance of the winter,” Kramer wrote.

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