IDOT will not pass the salt
You may ask, but it appears IDOT does not plan to pass the road salt this winter.
The Chicago Tribune recently quoted Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Milton Sees, saying, “We no longer can plow and salt the pavement down to zero snow and ice. We’ll also use the sun to melt ice on the highway shoulders.”
So, Illinois is taking a green approach to ice and snow removal. How fiscally responsible of the state. We see Gov. “Ro(a)d” Blagojevich’s fingerprints all over this one.
IDOT issued a cautionary statement to motorists: “Ice and snow, take it slow.” How clever.
However, a motto does not make the roads any less slippery.
We are already seeing the consequences of a failure by IDOT to put less salt on the roads with last week’s fairly insignificant snow.
In Peoria, for example, Knoxville Avenue — State Route 40 — was a skating rink. City streets were taken care of quite nicely.
But, Knoxville, near Proctor Hospital, was so slick several vehicles went off the roadway.
At Knoxville’s intersection with Pioneer Parkway there was an inches-thick coating of ice in the turn lane.
What happened on Knoxville is not an isolated case. IDOT operations engineer Shane Larson said crews will be more selective about plowing any road with less than 5,000 vehicles per day.
Routes with average daily traffic of between 5,000 and 10,000 vehicles will have scattered slippery spots.
This is a symptom of a larger problem.
Rock salt, which sold for $40 a ton last year, is now fetching as much as $140 a ton.
If there is price-gouging going on, that is corruption, and corruption is part of the fabric of Illinois, as evidenced by yesterday's arrest of the governor.
The skyrocketing prices do raise eyebrows.
Commodities prices have been in a free fall. Just look at how the price of aluminum has plummeted.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is looking into this, but, so far, has not found any wrong doing.
It is a familiar story.
The salt suppliers say demand is so high it is hard for them to keep up. The price of salt goes up.
It is difficult to get the product shipped — much of it on the Illinois River — the suppliers say. But, last we looked the river had not turned into the consistency of a glacier. Still, the price goes up.
The cost of fuel is a factor the suppliers say. But, it seems to us that fuel prices have gone down.
Still, the price of salt goes up.
It seems the suppliers have the upper hand for the moment. But, that is only part of the problem.
The other part of the problem is our governor.
“Ro(a)d” — who likes to fly all over the state — is a big fan of cutting what he calls “pork barrel projects.”
For one who flies everywhere with the taxpayers footing the bill, road salt might appear to be a “pork barrel project.” The solution is for all of us to get Blagojevich’s attention. The drone of jet engines constantly in his ears, has been replaced by the clatter of a fedral lock-up. But, getting his attention can be done. It will be difficult. The governor's mind is not on salt. More likely he is thinking about soap.
Contact your legislators, listed to the right of this editorial. We have some good ones around here. They hear us and respond.
Inundate IDOT with your comments. Contact the governor at www.illinois.gov/gov/contactthegovernor.cfm. Send letters to the editor.
Together, we might get someone’s attention.
Otherwise, all we can do is hope for a lot of sunny days this winter.