River Hills set on road salt

Reserve, 'preservation mode' stretch supply during tough winter

Feb. 25, 2014

River Hills — Owing to a public works "salt preservation mode," some forward thinking and a little help from the sun, the village's salt supply will weather this year's trying winter.

According to a report presented by Public Works Director Kurt Fredrickson on Feb. 19 to the Village Board, the frequent snowfalls have caused the village to dip into its reserve salt but in all likelihood won't present a problem.

Fredrickson said the village typically uses between 300 and 550 tons of salt annually. As of the report last week, River Hills had used about 550 tons. However, Fredrickson keeps about 700 tons of salt on hand each year to make sure the village can handle extraordinary winter seasons.

"I'm confident we'll get through the winter fine," Fredrickson told the board.

Helping to reduce salt use was a switch in late December to "salt preservation mode" on village streets. Public works employees mixed sand in with salt and applied less of the mixture to less-traveled streets.

On major thoroughfares like Good Hope Road, DPW workers salted the center of the road instead of the usual two-lane treatment. On secondary streets, village staff salted lightly and intermittently, and as needed for hills, curves or other hazardous areas. On cul-de-sacs, salting was intermittent and as needed.

Also helpful to the salt preservation effort was some old-fashion sunshine. Fredrickson said that even in the frigid conditions the combination of direct sunlight and salt melts a lot of snow.

"I think the sun does a good job for us," Frederickson said. "It certainly has done a good job this year."

While the exact toll of the season won't be known until River Hills purchases salt later this year to prepare for the 2014-15 season and replenish its buffer, Fredrickson's foresight has already saved the village money in the short term.

According to his report, River Hills paid $52.49 per ton of salt for this season, while the estimated rate for emergency salt on the open market could exceed $200 per ton.

"It just goes to show that someone with 40 years of experience knows what he's doing," Village President Bob Brunner said, "and doesn't cry wolf."

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