DOT’s salty solution wards winter as snowstorm approaches

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NEW LONDON - No matter what winter has in store for this weekend, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) says they have the solution.

For pretreating the roads, state crews use a salt brine mixture which consists of 75 percent water and 25 percent  salt. At a cost of $0.10 per gallon, well-known trouble spots are hit hard.

"It goes down as a liquid and the liquid cooks off and basically leaves those fine salt particles semi bonded to the roadway surface," says Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the DOT.

And, when the precipitation pounds the pavement, it starts to melt on contact, helping the cleanup process.

Since the state started refraining from using sand on highways, almost a decade ago, winter weather crashes have also been cut by one third. Nursick says one crash, with moderate injuries, costs roughly $250,000.

"In terms of medical bills, police response, fire department response and congestion caused by the crash," said Nursick, who adds that a crash, with serious injuries, costs approximately $1 million.

During storms, if the temperature dips below 25 degrees, for every 200 pounds of salt used, DOT trucks will also introduce one gallon of magnesium chloride, which is diluted to roughly 30 percent strength.

Nursick acknowledges that any salt is corrosive, so the DOT makes certain they are strategic in how they use these materials.

"The motor vehicle owner can minimize the impact, as well, by simply washing the vehicles," said Nursick, who emphasized it's important that motorists also spray their undercarriage to avoid trouble with critical components, such as brake lines.

By moving away from sand, the DOT says they save at least $6 million a year in spring cleanup alone.