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Harsh Winter Forces Crystal Lake to Buy More Road Salt

Crystal Lake Public Works Department has maxed out its supply of road salt and must order more to deal with harsh winter season.

Crystal Lake salt storage bins at the Municipal Complex, 100 W. Woodstock St.
Crystal Lake salt storage bins at the Municipal Complex, 100 W. Woodstock St.
Rain, snow, ice, extreme cold.

It's been a tough winter on area public works departments and road crews. Crystal Lake is no exception.

As of Friday, Crystal Lake Public Works Department had responded to 38 snow, and ice events, said Victor Ramirez, public works director for the city. And the forecast is calling for more snow Friday night, Saturday and Sunday with extreme cold temperatures returning Monday.

Simply put: The season is taking a toll on the city's road salt supply and overtime pay budget. 

"It's an expensive winter," Ramirez said Thursday. "It continues to snow, continues to be cold and windy. We're already over budget on salt and overtime." 

Crystal Lake's allotment of salt purchased through the State Joint Purchasing has maxed out, and requests for additional allocation have been denied, city documents show.

City officials contacted seven salt vendor companies seeking to buy more, but the severe winter conditions have prevented those companies from receiving additional product.

For that reason, the Crystal Lake City Council this week approved the purchase of Thawrox at $80.33 per ton. Thawrox is a road salt product pre-treated with anti-icing chemicals. Regular road salt costs about $60 per ton, Ramirez said, but additional expense and manpower are needed to treat it.

Ramirez said the city had about 300 to 400 tons of salt remaining, enough for about three to four ice/ snow events. His department budgeted about $225,000 this season for salt and de-icing. So far, it has spent $256,000.

The department also has exceeded the overtime budget of $176,000 for its road crew, he said. 

In an effort to conserve salt, the city has focused on salting intersections and the main arterial roads. Road crews have been scraping the less traveled residential streets to conserve on salt, Ramirez said. 

"The challenges with salt is that we have to commit to an order in March, and we have to accept the order," Ramirez said. "Two years ago, we ended up with too much and we were able to store some at the Lake in the Hills storage site. We always want to order so we have enough, but not too much."





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