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Messy mix of snow, rain prompts cancellation of CTA Green Line work

Chicago Streets and Sanitation Snow Fighters amid some of the city’s 400,000 tons of salt.

The CTA Friday cancelled construction work planned Saturday and Sunday on the Green Line in anticipation of a messy weekend mix of snow and rain.

Snow followed by sleet or “ice pellets” and then rain was expected to hit Chicago very early Saturday morning, with a possible break during the day but then more rain possibly turning to snow overnight Saturday into Sunday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jamie Enderlen.

By early Monday morning, temperatures could tumble to zero, with wind chills of -20 by the time some kids are heading to school, Enderlen said.

As a result, the NWS issued a winter storm advisory midnight to noon Saturday for the six-county Chicago area, as well as northwest Indiana.

The forecast prompted CTA officials to cancel construction work planned Saturday and Sunday on the Green Line between the Roosevelt and 35th-Bronzeville-IIT stations. Green Line trains will operate normally through the weekend, the agency said.

Meanwhile, the city’s department of Streets and Sanitation Friday tweeted that is “monitoring road conditions and will deploy snow and ice removal vehicles tonight as conditions warrant.”

Streets and Sanitation spokeswoman Molly Poppe said the department’s drivers were prepared to report to work stations Friday night, possibly to apply “beet juice” to hills and bridge decks ahead of the storm to help salt stick better.

The department stands ready with 400,000 tons of salt this season, at a cost of roughly $62 a ton, Poppe said. That’s up from the 285,000 tons it accumulated before last winter’s battle against Mother Nature. The city ended up using 430,000 tons over the especially challenging 2013-2014 winter season.

“What we learned last year is that Mother Nature can be brutal. She was hard on the city last year,” Poppe said. “We want to make sure we are truly ready. We have trained all drivers on salt application and we are ready to go.”

The city has not expanded its fleet of 287 combination snow blowers and salt spreaders, but this year 19 of them are new, Poppe said.