Alderman claims citywide salt shortage; 6th Ward's Roderick Sawyer says trucks limited to one load per shift

There is a salt skirmish underway Thursday night in Chicago and the ABC7 I-Team is trying to shake out the truth.
January 9, 2014 4:29:20 PM PST
There is a salt skirmish underway Thursday night in Chicago and the ABC7 I-Team is trying to shake out the truth.

With some side streets still clogged with snow and ice one city alderman claims there is a shortage of road salt.

Too much salt may spike your blood pressure but Thursday night a South Side alderman is steaming about not enough salt on the roads of his ward.

Alderman Roderick Sawyer of the 6th Ward triggered a minor salt war Thursday afternoon when he said that there was a citywide shortage of road salt and that trucks were limited to one load of salt per shift.

In Chicago, where slick streets and lagging snow removal once cost a mayor his job, such a shot is not shaken lightly.

After Alderman Sawyer sent out a press release claiming there was a city salt shortage, the I-Team visited the streets and sanitation salt yard in his ward.

A very large pile of city salt and city trucks being filled with salt to spread on city streets.

The I-Team then interviewed Alderman Sawyer, who had changed his tune.

"I understand the city has plenty of salt and I just didn't want them to be too frugal about the salt, to horde it, especially at a time right now when we need it," Sawyer said.

Sawyer says he spoke with streets and sanitation's commissioner. So did the I-Team. He just told Eyewitness News reporter Stacey Baca that the city is "managing" its salt supply.

"We don't want to waste our resources," said Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Charles Williams. "We want to manage our resources, and that's what we do as part of our snow programs. We manage the amount of salt we place on the street and we monitor on a regular basis."

The I-Team has been monitoring salt supplies all week. The city of Chicago did rip through two-thirds of his total supply during the recent barrage of snow and cold, starting the season with 280,000 tons and Thursday reporting a supply of 100,000 tons.

But with daily replenishments from multiple vendors, officials say there will be adequate supplies.

State of Illinois road salt at the start of the season was 460,000 tons. State trucks have spread about half of it. This season though taxpayers bought $14.5 million worth of salt, about half of the average seasonal purchase.

So there appears to be enough salt in stock and available for delivery, although another major storm and cold snap would drain current inventories if government couldn't get fresh salt. That doesn't seem to be an issue right now.

The city managing of its salt distribution does include limiting the amount of salt that is put on streets so what is already there can work.