Long Winter Brings Salt Shortage, Steeper Prices

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CHICAGO (AP) -- As piles of snow grow taller, the piles of salt for spreading on the nation's icy, slushy roads are shrinking, forcing communities to ration supplies.

Cities have already gone through most of their salt well ahead of the time they traditionally really need it -- when the coldest part of the winter gives way to temperatures just warm enough to turn snow into freezing rain and sleet and roads into ribbons of ice.

Julius Hansen is public works director in the Chicago suburb of Glen Ellyn. He says if more salt isn't available soon, more cities could find themselves paralyzed by ice, just like Atlanta was last week.

Demand is so high that salt prices are skyrocketing. In some places, crews are stretching their supplies by mixing it with sand.

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