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Icy, slick, slippery

With one month of cold weather under its belt, Bureau County road and street officials are hopeful their winter road supplies are sufficient for the rest of the season.

On Wednesday, Bureau County Highway Engineer John Gross said the county started the winter season with about 2,000 tons of salt/sand mix, but about 1,000 of those tons have gone out to townships and municipalities. So far this winter, the county highway department has used about 200 tons of its salt/sand mixture.

Right now, the existing road supply is similar to last year’s at this time, Gross said. However, it’s hard to gauge the supply from a certain time of the year because there’s no predicting when storms will hit. There have been several years when the county was hit hard in December with its snow storms, he added.

As of now, Gross is comfortable with the supply the county has on hand, especially with no significant snowfall forecast at this time. But there’s no predicting the future and the weather, he said.

“I try not to second guess the weather,” Gross said. “It’s something we have no control over. We have to be prepared the best we can, as much as our resources allow, with materials, equipment and men.”

Even with that preparation, it could still take several days to dig out of a major blizzard if it happened, Gross said, adding the county can’t keep enough resources on hand to get it done any quicker, he said.

Though there is no predicting the future, Gross said it does seem Bureau County gets at least one or two good snow storms a year.

As far as the general public traveling on county roads after a snow storm, his advice is the same as it is ever year. Drivers need to retrain themselves for winter driving, slow down and allow a little extra travel time, he said.

In Princeton, Superintendent of Streets Steve Wright said he has a sufficient supply of needed winter streets materials at this time. The city uses straight salt on the city streets and an ice control fractured sand on unpaved lots. Right now the city has about 600 tons of salt available and about 2,500 tons of the fractured sand available.

At this point, he doesn’t foresee having to order any more materials for this winter.

According to the city’s website, Princeton has 58 miles of streets for which the street department is responsible. If there is a snowfall of 3 inches or more, all vehicles must be removed from those streets so city crews can clear the streets, Wright said.

If a vehicle is not removed from the city streets after an accumulation of 3 or more inches of snow, then it can be towed away at the owner’s expense, Princeton Police Chief Tom Root said on Wednesday.

As far as safe driving on the city streets after a snowfall, Wright said his recommendation is the same this year as every other year: Drivers needs to slow down.

Looking ahead to winter driving in January, Illinois State Climatologist James Angel said there’s no real prediction as to how much snowfall is coming this month to Illinois. The National Weather Service has released its January forecast showing an “equal chance” of above, below and near-normal temperatures and precipitation across the state.

A representative of the Spring Valley Street Department did not return calls to the Bureau County Republican by press time.

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