The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration held its annual winter preparedness press conference to go over its winter weather fighting strategies.
Officials introduced new infrared pavement sensors that have been deployed throughout the state and discussed techniques used to reduce their salt use.
MDOT SHA pre-treats roads with a salt brine in the days before a storm. The brine dries, and the film left on the road helps to prevent the initial bonding of snow and ice from forming.
Another technique to reduce salt use is pre-wetting the granular salt before dispensing in onto the roads. The granular salt is wet with salt brine to help it adhere to road surfaces and prevent waste due to “bounce and scatter.”
The final step in reducing salt use is the designation of liquid only snow routes. In normal, non-blizzard storms crews use only salt brine to treat the roads.
In the last five years, salt usage during the winter has continuously dropped. Salt usage has decreased more than 30% in the last year and more than 70% in the last three years,
"We continue to focus on reducing the amount of salt that we use on our system every year in reacting to our storms but also keeping safety as our top priority," said MDOT SHA administrator Greg Slater.
In addition to salt spreading/snow plowing dump trucks, MDOT SHA will deploy 550 truck-mounted saddle tanks, 205 wing plows, 14 truck/trailer-mounted liquid applicator spray tanks, 15 salt brine makers, two tow plows, four Dual-Wing plows, nine Quad Axle trucks, and 62 Non-Invasive Road Sensors.
The administration is also piloting a mobile salt brining machine that will allow workers to make salt brine at mobile locations.