The Oregon Department of Transportation has expanded its use of rock salt this winter after five years of testing the snow and ice melting product.
With the tests, ODOT said it saw a 27-percent drop in the average number of crashes a year on Interstate 5 and a 23-percent drop on U.S. 95.
The ODOT has expanded salt use to sections of I-84 between the Idaho border and Boardman, as well as some other eastern Oregon routes. It has also expanded its use on about 100 miles of I-5 between from the Siskiyou Pass to just north of Canyonville. The agency says it will also use salt on other freeways in severe weather conditions if needed.
ODOT has typically relied on liquid magnesium-chloride deicers to prevent or break up snow or ice bonding, to aid snow plows.
“However, liquid deicer is limited in its ability to keep roads clear of snow and ice during certain storms,” the agency says. “In these situations, solid salt can help keep highways in better condition during the storm and reduce the duration of closures and chain restriction requirements.”
Using rock salt brings higher costs for storage and equipment. ODOT says its use must be prioritized, and it is not recommending expanding salt use beyond freeways and interstates.