Cutting salt use on roads 30 percent without compromising motorist safety. That’s the target state, city and county road crews were shooting at.
So what’s with all the large amounts of residual salt on our roadways? How does that square with the salt-reduction program?
Two factors contribute to salt left on the roads: Very cold temperatures, and small snowfalls.
“They are our worst enemy for salt reduction,” explained Russ Yurek, State Highway Administration director of maintenance.
The new pretreatment method of road maintenance is based on the forecast of temperature and snow totals and is designed to melt the snow, then run off. If there is less snow than forecast, there might not be enough to essentially wash the salt away. Also, in heavy storms, the salt is plowed off with the snow. With small totals — an inch or two as we’ve been getting —there is no plowing, so the salt just sits.
Salt has been spread in 25 “weather events,” as the jargon goes, so far this winter, most in Western Maryland. Here along the Bay, we’ve had seven events, our annual average, with most very light.
Only 75,000 tons of a stockpiled 380,000 tons of salt have been used. Replacement stocks have been ordered and are arriving.