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Salt brine program to be tested on Route 5 in Herkimer County

A road sign on Route 5 in Frankfort (photo; NYS DOT)

The nine mile stretch of State Route 5 from Ilion to the Oneida County line will be a test run for a new salt brine technique to be used when it snows.

Posted: Nov 19, 2021 3:21 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2021 3:21 PM

HERKIMER COUNTY, N.Y. (WKTV) - The nine-mile stretch of State Route 5 from Ilion to the Oneida County line will be a test run for a new salt brine technique to be used when it snows.

The New York State Department of Transportation chief of staff visited Herkimer Friday to talk about the benefits of the pilot program. 

The program will utilize a liquid-only operation, distributing salt brine to coat the roadway in place of traditional road salt for anti-icing pre-storm and during snow and ice events. The pilot is comparable to one that was launched during the 2020-2021 snow and ice season on Route 9 and Route 32 in Saratoga County.

The straight, flat stretch of Route 5 from the Route 51 intersection in Ilion to the Oneida County line is an ideal candidate for the next pilot as it is located near the Department of Transportation facility where salt brine is stored.

NYSDOT Chief of Staff Todd Westhuis told NEWSChannel 2 the pilot programs in other areas typically saw a salt-use reduction of 10 - 15 percent. Saving salt means saving money. 

"We always try to balance, safety, environmental impact, infrustructure impact and the fiscal side of using salt," Westhuis said. "So anytime we get a reduction in salt like this, using salt brine, it translates into savings to the taxpayer."

The salt reduction pilot program taking place in Herkimer County is a liquid-only operation that will utilize a direct liquid application (DLA) by distributing salt brine to coat the roadway in place of granular salt. The DLA will allow DOT to reduce the amount of salt used without reducing the level of service and maintaining safe roadways for travelers during winter weather events. The brine is dispensed through a spray bar, mounted to a plow truck outfitted with a large brine tank instead of a salt hopper. This treatment will be used for storm preparations as well as during winter weather events.

This is the part that's new. "The difference here is how we are using this during a storm," Westhuis said. "That's the change here."

The hope too, is that it's more effective that granular salt. 

"When the brine goes down, it instantly gets to work versus road salt, which can bounce, scatter, and then turn inself into brine eventually," Westhuis said. 

Village of Frankfort Mayor Richard Adams, Jr. said, “I’m excited to see NYSDOT focus on safety and cost reduction initiatives that will be utilized around our community which many of our residents travel on a regular basis. NYSDOT continues to look to improve safety and reduce costs through the use of new and improved technology.”

If this dry run with a wet form of salt works in Herkimer County, it may be used in other select spots across the state. 

"We will continue to build on success and look for other candidate locations across the state," Westhuis said. 

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