Libertyville is ready for winter
Streets & Utilities Superintendent Marty Wittrock said Libertville can store 400 tons of salt at a time. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:58AM
LIBERTYVILLE — Streets & Utilities Superintendent Marty Wittrock says Libertyville is ready for the winter season of snow and ice.
Libertyville’s streets department is responsible for salting and plowing 85 miles of road while state roads are the responsibility of the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The village department employs 16 staffers who drive and 10 plow trucks to accomplish the task. There are also six backup drivers in case a staffer gets sick.
“If need be, I’ll jump in a truck,” Wittrock said. “It wouldn’t be the first time.”
As for salt, Wittrock said Libertyville buys its supply through a joint purchasing program run by the state of Illinois. Many towns take part so that collectively they can get a better price than if they were buying on their own.
The vendor with the lowest price this year was Morton Salt Company and the village bought a total of 1,750 tons of salt from them.
Wittrock explained that only 400 tons at a time can be stored, so the delivery of the 1,750 tons comes in increments.
The town seems to have fared better than others after last winter’s surprisingly low amount of snow. While there are about 250 tons left over from last year, it’s not enough to place an undue burden on storage capacity.
Some towns didn’t plan as wisely. Wittrock said he had other superintendents calling him last year to ask if they could store their excess salt with him. He had to turn them down.
The 19.8 inches of snowfall in 2011/12 was only the ninth time since 1884 that Chicago experienced less than 20 inches of snow, according to National Weather Service records.
Richard Castro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Chicago Forecast Office, said the average winter snowfall is 36.7 inches, and last year’s warm temperatures came after four consecutive years of 50-plus inches of snow – the longest stretch of “elevated snowfall” ever recorded.
Whether this winter produces a lot of snow or not, there are concerns about how the Route 21 and Route 137 construction will affect snow removal and driver safety.
Wittrock said the gravel that IDOT poured into the torn up lanes should help the situation since there won’t be such a steep drop-off from the usable lanes.
Though acknowledging that traffic could snare plow trucks, he also put a positive spin on the situation.
“Instead of plowing five lanes, we’ll only have to plow three.”