IDOT sees big salt stockpile heading into winter

There will be 1,801 plow trucks covering 1,177 routes across the stat
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 4:28 PM CST
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QUINCY (WGEM) - As the calendar reaches mid-November, that means that winter weather is not far away.

That’s why officials with IDOT are asking drivers to plan ahead for possibility of winter weather while driving.

According to IDOT, there will be 1,801 plow trucks covering 1,177 routes across the state of Illinois when winter weather strikes.

Operating those trucks will be an army of 1,700 permanent employees and around 1,400 temporary employees to help clear the roads.

The plow driver workforce is still about 10% lower than pre-pandemic levels.

However, operations field engineer Martin Wagner said between the ongoing hiring efforts, and the immense salt supply, they are prepared for this season.

“We have plenty of salt this year because we had such a mild winter last year, and we’ve actually been doing pretty well with getting our winter drivers too so we’re in good shape this year,” Wagner said.

During the winter of 2022-2023, IDOT District 6 used 12,606 tons of salt on the roads to keep them safe.

That may sound like a high number, but it pales in comparison to the 35,000+ tons of salt used in the previous two winters.

Highway maintenance worker Michael Runk said there was so much salt left over that the operations yard had to create a whole new spot for it.

“They had to put the surplus somewhere, so we made an extra spot for it so we have plenty of salt. The tanks here have our brine in it, and if it gets real cold, we have calcium chloride we can use,” Runk said.

Both Runk and Wagner said they urge all drivers to use extra caution when traveling in winter weather, especially near the plows.

Just because a driver can see a plow, does not mean that the plow can see the driver.

Winter officially begins Dec. 21, but snow can fall anytime from now through April.

You can always check road conditions around the state by clicking here.

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