Enough road salt to last the winter?

By WEEK Producer

January 22, 2014 Updated Jan 22, 2014 at 8:17 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Area snow plows have been busy this winter. A lot busier than a year ago.

Despite putting on all of those miles clearing snow and ice only a month into the season, the city of Peoria isn't in danger of running out of road salt.

"We have plenty of salt. We have about 3,000 tons remaining in the dome," said David Haste, the manager of streets, sewers and forestry for the city of Peoria. "We start out with a full dome (of salt) each season, about 9,000 tons. And we have about 4,000 tons covered under tarps from previous seasons."

And that surplus is coming in handy now.

So far, about 6,700 tons of salt have been used on Peoria streets. Thanks to a couple of mild winters right before this one the price of the stuff has come way down.

"At one time I think we were paying close to 70 dollars a ton," said Haste. "Right now, with the salt that we just put in the dome at the beginning of last year I think was $50.52 .

Meanwhile, IDOT District 4 has already ordered more salt.

"We've used significantly more than last year and the year before that," said IDOT spokesman Brian Williamsen. "At the same time having those reserves coming into the year was helpful."

Of course using more salt means the plows are on the roads longer. That can translate into more overtime hours for drivers, an expense that has to be budgeted for, just in case.

"As the winter goes on we continue to assess things," Williamsen said, "but no matter what there are going to be people out there on the road plowing and salting and making sure that the roads are clear for drivers."

Which makes the drive a lot smoother.