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Lemont starting to feel pinch on salt supplies

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 2:23 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 2:19 p.m. CDT

LEMONT – With no let up in the winter weather in sight, Lemont Mayor Brian Reaves said the village's salt supply is dwindling.

Speaking at the Monday Lemont Village Board meeting, Reaves said the village has already gone through two-and-a-half years worth of salt this winter.

Stockpiles of salt from along the canal not used in previous years have helped the village this season, he said.

But Lemont is down to its last 400 tons and is uncertain where it will be able to get more.

"Nobody will sell us more salt," Reaves said. "Everybody is out."

There have been 19 snow events so far this season when multiple public works trucks were used to clear and salt the roads, he said. Each requires 200 to 400 tons of salt.

Public Works Director Ralph Pukula said he has been talking with departments in other municipalities and everyone is having trouble getting more salt because of market gridlock.

Reaves said the cold weather is making it hard to transport the sale. Frozen canal waters keep ships from coming through.

Pukula said the village has been on conservation mode with its salt for about a month, only salting intersections, hills and main roads.

As a result of the string of cold weather days, the Public Works Department has worked nine weekends in a row.

Reaves said the demand is taking a toll, with some workers unable to come in Monday because of exhaustion.

During severe cold snaps, the department also has to address water main breaks, he said.

Pukula said there was a break Saturday and two Monday.

There are ways residents can help Public Works, he said.

"Remove snow to the edge of the driveway, and do not push it in the street, because all it does is freeze in the street," Pukula said.

He also encourages people to sign up for Nixle alerts, which will inform them about situations such as when odd-even parking is in effect.

Odd-even parking occurs whenever there is two inches of snow fall. Vehicles should be parked on the odd-number side of the street on odd-number dates and vice versa, allowing plows to clear the other side of the road.

Reaves said he does not believe the village will run out of salt. But Lemont, like all other area municipalities, will be cutting it close.

"(Weather forecasters are) not seeing any break through the month of February," he said. "We are going to be in for a longer haul right now."

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