No need to shovel or salt, as Oak Park’s heated sidewalks melt snow on contact – CBS Chicago


CHICAGO (CBS) — We all know how dangerous Chicago sidewalks can be after a snowstorm. Now there’s a push for the city to plow sidewalks, taking the burden off businesses and homeowners.

Nearly five thousand people have signed a petition launched by a public transport advocacy group to ensure sidewalks are accessible to all

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While some advocates are calling on the city to plow these walkways, there is a way to avoid all of that in a suburb, self-supporting sidewalks that melt snow on their own. CBS 2’s Sabrina Franza went to Oak Park and stood on top of one.

This sidewalk is completely dry. There was no shoveling, no salting, nothing because of the underground electrical wiring heating the sidewalk from below.

Business owners let the snow and the pavement do their job.

“When it snows, every time it snows, there’s nothing on the sidewalk,” said Tina Salerno, co-owner of James Anthony Salons.

This is the dream. The melting is instantaneous. Take that snowball, throw it on the ground and in seconds it’s gone.

“We are very grateful for that,” Salerno said.

Tina Salerno runs a salon on Marion Street.

“One of the things our customers rely on is that they know things are being cleaned in front of the salon,” she said.

No snow means more business for her and her neighbors.

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“A lot of pedestrians in this area here,” said Abrahiam Effin, co-owner of Sugar Fixe.

Oak Park installed the technology in 2007. Projects like these are expensive.

“We’re budgeting $25,000 a year for this, which is about what we see in an average winter,” said Oak Park Village engineer Bill McKenna.

Here, the electrical wiring melts the snow under the concrete. There is also a gas powered system.

“It’s called a hydronic system,” said John Fuks, co-owner of KTS Heating and Cooling.

With gas, the average driveway installation can cost upwards of $30,000 with a 15% increase in your gas bill.

“It pumps the antifreeze into the tubes that are inside the concrete,” Fuks said.

The village pays the bills but where there is no heated sidewalk, the responsibility lies with the storefront.

Sabrina: Is something like this a solution to shoveling in the Chicago area?

Bill: It might be.

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Oak Park isn’t the only place in the Chicago area to have these heated sidewalks. In front of the Willis Tower you will also notice that there is no snow to shovel. There are a few areas in Oak Park that have stopped working – the village voted not to fix them due to cost.


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