We depend on salt to keep roadways open and safe during winter snow and ice storm emergencies. New techniques raise hope of even better service and agencies are establishing systems to measure and assess their success in ensuring the roadways deliver the service for which they were constructed.
Winter weather is a major operations challenge. In the U.S., more than 70% of the roads (and 70% of the population) are in snowy regions which receive more than 5-inches (13 cm) of snowfall annually. The figure is higher in Canada and significant in much of Europe and East Asia. Not only can winter weather seriously degrade roadway operations, but inadequate snow and ice removal operations in these areas strangle commerce and jeopardize the safety of roadway users. User surveys in the U.S. show solid majorities expect roadway agencies to perform timely winter maintenance.
At the same time, agencies understand the crucial need for environmental best practices in storing and applying road salt, what the Salt Institute terms “Sensible Salting:” use of the minimum amount of salt needed to get the job done. The principles and recommendations of the Salt Institute’s Sensible Salting program are accepted as best practices for snowfighting agencies.
The policy issues in the area of road salt include:
How to measure “success .” How to operate highways effectively in winter weather
How to organize snowfighting operations , train snowfighting personnel and store/apply only the minimum amount of salt required to keep roads safe and passable (these are operations policy issues and dealt with in our Education Center Sensible Salting training materials for snowfighting managers)