Communities scramble for salt supply

By Gary Brode |, Kelsey Gibbs |

Published 07/29 2014 04:56PM

Updated 07/30 2014 12:22PM

Update: 10:10 pm
ILLINOIS -- Road crews are getting ready for winter, but not everyone is getting help from the state. More than 550 towns submitted bids for salt from the state. Vendors chose to help only 367 of them. Champaign is one of the towns denied.

The cost was too high, so it has to look elsewhere. The city will have to dish out about $600,000 extra. There is an upside to buying from a private company; this year, Champaign will get its salt in the middle of September instead of December.
Original: 4:56 pm
ILLINOIS -- Several communities are scrambling to find this winter's salt supply. More than 550 towns submitted bids for a salt vendor to the state, but only 367 received them. Several of those denied are in the central part of the state. WCIA-3's Kelsey Gibbs has more.

The departments which were denied will have different options. Counties like Sangamon are trying to take matters into their own hands. The county will issue its own bids to vendors.

As a small business owner, Paul Donelan knows a thing or two about drawing customers in. But, Mother Nature can keep them away.

"We have to be here no matter what in the event of anything. Every day, seven days a week."

Donelan says he relies on street crews to keep the roads clear so he and his customers can make it in. But, some departments are worried about getting the salt they need this winter to treat the roads.

Sangamon County is one of 195 communities without a salt vendor through the state. The decision was made by salt vendors.

"We were notified by CMS here about a week and a half ago that we did not receive bids for our portion of the contract along with many other communities."

Last winter's record frigid temperatures and snowfall depleted supplies, so vendors can't accommodate as many departments. The demand is also driving up prices.

"It's possible that we could see a 20 to 50 percent increase. The state has estimated that because of individual bids we might see a higher price, but it's material that we need to obviously take care of the winter season."

Sangamon County will now issue its own bids for salt.

"That leaves us an option going back for bids ourselves which is what Sangamon County is going to do. We're actually advertising for bids starting this week and we'll open bids the week of August 11th."

Nine communities in our area were denied bids:
Champaign County
Champaign Township
Danville Township
University of Illinois
Vermilion County

The U.S. Department of Transportation keeps a record of how much salt is used on national highways each year. It says, on average, ten million tons is used each year. The winter of 1978 required the most salt of any year. New Hampshire was the first state to use salt on roadways in 1941.

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