May 5, 2004
USE OF SALT ON ROADS
By: Kristina Sadlak, Legislative Fellow
You asked what is the Connecticut Department of Transportation's policy for using salt and sand on roads, why it has this policy, and how it compares with Massachusetts' policy.
According to Pat Rogers at the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT), the DOT applies either salt followed by sand, at the rate of 432 pounds per two-lane mile, or a mixture of sand and salt, at the rate of 300 pounds per two-lane mile. The mixture consists of seven parts sand and two parts salt. This mixture is generally used only on secondary roads and on off-ramps from multi-lane roads. On multi-lane roads, salt is applied first, followed by sand. The reason for applying sand and salt this way is to prevent the roads from becoming icy and to lessen the occurrence of contamination. DOT applies salt and sand to the roads as soon as a winter storm begins and then as needed during the storm.
Connecticut has very few complaints about water contamination resulting from salt or sand. According to DOT, the last complaint was approximately five years ago. The complaints are usually about salt contaminating an old, dug well supplying water for an older house situated very close to the road.
According to Sam Salfity at the Massachusetts Highway Department, Massachusetts uses either pure salt or a mixture consisting of 50% salt and 50% sand. The mixture is used only in low salt areas, and is applied at the rate of 240 pounds per mile. It uses pure salt wherever possible and is trying to reduce the use of sand. The reason it has this policy is because the department has a lot of contamination complaints resulting from sand use.