Salt shift: ODOT will use salt on icy highways in 'extreme situa - KPTV - FOX 12

Salt shift: ODOT will use salt on icy highways in 'extreme situations'

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A snowstorm covered the metro area Wednesday. (Image: KPTV/Air 12) A snowstorm covered the metro area Wednesday. (Image: KPTV/Air 12)

The Oregon Department of Transportation announced Friday it will use solid salt on Oregon freeways in "extreme situations."

The decision comes after a snowstorm snarled traffic in and around Portland on Wednesday.

ODOT workers spread solid salt on a nine-mile stretch of Interstate 5 from just north of Albany to south Salem on Wednesday, an area of hills and curves that often ices over in storms.

Previously, ODOT had only use salt on the 11 southernmost miles of I-5 from the California border and on 120 miles of Highway 95 in southeastern Oregon.

Those were considered test sites for a salt pilot program that began in 2012.  

All states bordering Oregon – Washington, Idaho, Nevada and California – use salt on the roads.

ODOT reports it won't use salt on a regular basis, but calls it "another tool in our tool box" to be used in "highly specific situations where it can produce a significant benefit."

"We're listening to our communities around the state," said ODOT Highway Division Administrator Paul Mather. "They've asked us to at least consider using salt. So we will assess where and when it may be appropriate."

Factors on whether to use salt will include the condition of the road, the weather forecast, temperature, specific characteristics of the storm and the highway's history with ice or snow.

ODOT reported it applied 220 truckloads of sand on Portland freeways for Wednesday's snowstorm, along with 65,000 gallons of de-icer.

On Thursday, a Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesman said PBOT doesn't use salt due to it being highly corrosive, expensive to store and because of its effect on the environment.

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