Public works cuts back on salting secondary streets

By Amanda Liberatore

For this winter season, the Champaign Public Works Department is making a slight change to its snow and ice plan. Because of the recent increase in the price of salt, the public works department will be limiting the amount of salt that it spreads on secondary streets. Unfortunately, secondary streets make up the majority of Campustown.

“There has been a 47 percent increase in the price of salt, and it has impacted the strategies that we are taking when it comes to salting various city streets,” said Stacy Rachel, parking services supervisor. “Last year, the price was $44.58 per ton. Now, it has gone up to $64.58 per ton.”

Rachel said that the department will be sure to salt areas, such as intersections, hills or sharp curves where ice may be a problem for drivers.

“Ninety-five percent of the people in the city live near a primary route,” she said. “When people are taking secondary routes to get to those primary routes, they need to be extra cautious while commuting.”

Because last year’s winter was so harsh, especially with the abundant amount of ice, the department’s salt reserves were depleted, she said. The department managed to restock the salt storage this year, but a budget increase of $130,000 was needed to get the same amount of salt as last year.

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Now, the department must monitor its salt distribution to make sure the salt doesn’t run out, which is why there is a decrease in the amount of salt spread over secondary roads.

“We had no control over the price and we wish that we could have enough to equally spread over both primary and secondary roads,” Rachel said. “But, then it came down to budgeting efficiently and we had to make the most logical choice.”

However, many faculty members and students pose the question as to how this will affect their ability to safely get to class each day.

“Yes, icier roads will directly affect my drive to campus,” said Jim Brennan, professor in history. “I live in Champaign, and I will drive much more cautiously without salt. There has been a big problem with the ice; the main roads haven’t been too bad, but the parking lots, especially off-campus, were horrible and dangerous.”

In some cases, there have already been repercussions to icy secondary roads.

“I have been concerned with how icy the roads have been looking lately, especially those smaller secondary roads,” said Cecily Garber, graduate student. “I’ve already seen one car accident on my street, and several bikers and pedestrians fall over on the ice.”

Rachel advises all commuters to be careful and cautious when driving this winter, especially on the secondary roads.

“Make sure to slow down and even leave a little bit earlier than you normally would for classes to drive slower and more cautious,” she said. “It’s important for everybody to stay safe during this winter season.”