Ford County cities restock on road salt ahead of snow storm

Ahead of Tuesday night’s anticipated snow storm, the street departments in Ford County’s two largest cities restocked their dwindling road-salt supplies, hoping they will have enough on hand to keep their roads clear for the next couple of rounds of severe weather in this particularly harsh winter.

“It’s a bad winter, for sure,” Randy Swan, superintendent of Paxton’s streets and alleys department, said, unable to recall when his city had used as much salt this early in any past winter.

On Tuesday, the forecast for Paxton showed daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches and further snow accumulation of 3-5 inches overnight. Less than a half-inch of snow was expected Wednesday, and even more snow could arrive this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Paxton, which had 400 to 500 tons of road salt on hand at the start of December, has about two loads — or 50 tons — of that salt left, Swan said. On Monday, Swan purchased 26 more tons.

“We’ve got enough for this storm, the next storm, and hopefully March,” Swan said Tuesday. “So hopefully we’ll make it through the winter.”

Gibson City had 50 tons still in stock and was to receive 50 more on Tuesday, according to the city’s street superintendent, Randy Stauffer. Gibson City started the winter with about 150 tons of salt on hand, plus about 100 tons of salt and sand mix.

Both Paxton and Gibson City have reserved salt from the state’s Central Management Services in case much more is needed. Paxton has reserved up to 200 tons, while Gibson City has reserved up to 375 tons. At least 80 percent of the reserved amount is required to be purchased by each city.

Swan said he anticipates having to order some of Paxton’s reserved salt from the state after this weekend.

Swan said each load of salt is about 25 to 27 tons. Each of Paxton’s four salt spreaders holds six to seven tons, he said.

Swan said it is a rarity when this much salt is used this early in the winter. Normally, the city will use 300 tons and have another 300 left over for the following winter, but Swan expects there will be none left by the end of this winter.

“We won’t be able to fill the (salt) bin after this season’s over without buying more,” Swan said.

Paxton said his crew will be out plowing and salting streets on Wednesday and through the week. He advised residents to not park on Market Street on Thursday and Friday, when city workers will be clearing the snow there.

Areas of Paxton that are salted first include the bridges and Market Street in the downtown, streets around the schools, and some of the most highly traveled intersections. Then, workers start salting intersections in residential areas.

In Gibson City, priority areas for snow-removal include the areas around schools and Gibson Area Hospital on the city’s north side. The city also salts the parking lots at the middle school and high school.

Categories (3):News, Transportation, Weather

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