Glen Ellyn considers increasing salt storage space to prepare for emergencies

Published: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 4:40 p.m. CDT

GLEN ELLYN – The village of Glen Ellyn is considering building an addition to its current Public Works facility in order to store more salt to combat icy and snowy roads during the winter.

The storage area would be about 4,700 square feet, which is almost twice the size of the existing space and big enough to hold about 2,000 tons of salt, compared to the 800 tons the village is able to store currently.

The cost of building the addition is expected to be about $800,000.

On average, the village uses about 100 tons of salt per snow occurrence, but that amount can fluctuate based on the outside temperature and other factors, Public Works Director Julius Hansen told the Glen Ellyn Village Board at a meeting Dec. 9.

"Just like the police and the fire departments, Public Works wants to be prepared for emergencies," Hansen said. "A snow emergency for us would be frequent snow events, a breakdown in the supply chain of salt being delivered to Public Works, which we're very dependent on."

During the last two years, Glen Ellyn officials have looked at ways to increase salt storage, such as partnering with other local government entities, including the village of Lombard and the College of DuPage (COD).

However, leasing space from Lombard and transporting salt to Glen Ellyn did not appear to be a cost-effective option, and COD suffers from a lack of salt storage, Hansen said. If Glen Ellyn were to increase its own storage capacity, Hansen said the village would likely allow COD to keep some of its salt there, too.

Constructing salt storage buildings at village locations outside the Public Works facility was ruled out due to proximity to bodies of water, wells or flood plains, according to village records.

The funds needed to construct one of these buildings would likely be similar to the cost of the proposed addition, Hansen said.

Storing salt at a location other than the Public Works facility presents additional spending in order to transport the salt for village staff to use. Those costs are estimated to total about $75,000 if the building were to last 30 years, according to village records.

The Public Works Department has proposed using the Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) and Capital Projects funds to pay for the addition.

The village saved about $250,000 during the last two years in its MFT fund for a new salt storage facility. The fund is supported by the Illinois Department of Transportation for projects concerning street maintenance, and the proposed salt storage addition is the only village facility improvement that could be paid for with MFT monies.

Public Works intends to use the MFT fund to support a majority of the project.

If the addition is built, the current 2,500-square-foot salt storage area at the Public Works facility will be used to store vehicles and police evidence.

If the Village Board authorizes the Public Works Department to solicit bids, those bids would likely be collected by the end of February, with board approval of a bid expected in March, according to village records.

"We'll make it happen for next season," Hansen said.

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