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State DOT makes road salt more environmentally friendly

ALDER CREEK, N.Y. - Before Monday morning's snowfall, roadways in the greater Utica region received the season's first dose of road salt.

Posted: Nov 20, 2017 6:08 PM
Updated: Nov 20, 2017 6:37 PM

ALDER CREEK, N.Y. - Before Monday morning's snowfall, roadways in the greater Utica region received the season's first dose of road salt.

"We use what's called a salt brine anywhere from 48 to 24 hours in advance," James Piccola, the public information officer with the State Department of Transportation said. "The brine, with the anti-icing or the prewetting of the roadways is a much better bang for your dollar in keeping your roadways and pavements clear."

Salt brine is created in several facilities in DOT Region 2, including Alder Creek. The brine method has been used since 2010. Crews use the brine ahead of winter storms to prevent snow from adhering to the road.

It's also used in combination with rock salt on roads that already have snow accumulation.

"As soon as the precipitation starts to hit the roadway, the salt starts to activate," Piccola said.

The brine prevents an excess of salt from filling the roadways and getting plowed off onto surrounding land.

"Brine is a lot less percentage of salt," Piccola said. "Where you're putting down anywhere from 30 to 50 gallons per lane mile as a pretreatment instead of having to go down and put salt down at 120 to 160 pounds per lane mile."

Brine production consumes thousands of gallons of water. The DOT's seven Alder Creek trucks hold 2,100 gallons of brine and depending on the weather, trucks may need to refill.

As a recycling measure, crews melt snow off their trucks, remove the sediment and reuse the runoff to make brine instead of only pumping new water. 

"We have environmental concerns with the salt, but again, that's why we're always looking at different ways to treat the roadways," Piccola said.

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County data is updated nightly.

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