Monday, January 29, 2024

Discussion time: Road salt

road salt event graphic


Discussion time: What’s the future of road salt use in the Adirondacks?

The Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force in September released a detailed report outlining a path to lower salt use in the Adirondack Park and statewide.

The report called for strengthening water standards, spreading best practices, tracking salt use, improving responses to contamination and expanding public understanding of awareness. But the report did not include an implementation plan or accountability system to ensure state officials act on recommendations.

So what comes next? With a panel of task force members and other experts, the Adirondack Explorer will examine what’s in the report, how to carry out its recommendations and the latest in the long-running movement to combat road salt pollution in the park. Join us for the event (more info and RSVP here).

What would you want to ask the panel? What should the state be considering going forward? Leave a comment here or email

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Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and is currently digital editor for Adirondack Explorer, overseeing both the Explorer's website and its community forum the Adirondack Almanack. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and two cats.

13 Responses

  1. Joan Grabe says:

    No money ? No implementation plan ! AdkAction has been agitating against over salting winter roads since 2010 or earlier. I am so discouraged that, after so much time, we find ourselves still studying the same problem. The State really has to step up to solve this problem and they are not. No matter how many advocates from the North Country testify in Albany.

  2. Boreas says:

    State Route 373 between Port Kent and Ausable Chasm in Essex Co. was designated as a test road for brine application last fall. Other than in November, I have seen no indication of brine usage on the test route – but rather rock salt is being used. I assumed the test was to continue through the winter! If the test has been aborted, it should be communicated to the public.

  3. Paul says:

    The fact that they are supposedly “testing” some sort of alternative on a road that has regular people driving themselves and their families on is probably a bad idea. It’s a test so you don’t know if it is going to work. If it doesn’t, and god forbid someone is severely injured, or worse killed, you know that lawsuits are going to follow, this is NYS.

    • Boreas says:

      I agree. My understanding was brine was a tried method in other areas. I don’t know if it was even tried on RT 373 much past Thanksgiving. Perhaps it was simply a mechanical issue with proper delivery/application. Perhaps it is methodology. Perhaps it didn’t work well. I would just like to see the results of the test and if/why it seems to have been aborted.

      • Paul says:

        Other options do need testing for sure but just doing it on an open road in my opinion is asking for trouble. I lived out west for a bunch of years sure brine can work but you may need the sun we have out west for it to really be effective.

        • Boreas says:

          I remember the sun. Saw it back in December once.

        • Boreas says:

          It likely helps, but rock salt becomes brine as soon as snow is added. But it DOES add a little traction until it is totally melted. I think the advantage of the brine is that it can be more accurately applied – theoretically resulting in fewer NaCl molecules being spread over the same amount of snow. But I am sure it requires good equipment and better training to be effective. It may NOT be as efficient as rock salt alone in many areas and applications.

          I think the idea of using RT 373 was a good one. It is essentially a 3.5 mile dead end. Minimal through traffic. Well shaded, relatively straight, with a few hills. Much of the rock salt gets dumped within a few hundred yards of the lake because of the intersections and hills. If it was a fail, fine – but since I live here it would be nice to be kept informed via weekly news or something. Perhaps AA or AE can do some reporting on the subject.

          • Paul says:

            I think we are better off testing under controlled conditions, where the subjects know they are being tested. You shouldn’t be able to just throw up a sign that “you are now a test subject – good luck!” Even agricultural “field” trials are conducted on fields nobody is going to eat…

            • Boreas says:

              Indeed. Perhaps that is why it was discontinued – if it was discontinued. It would be nice to know why. I suppose we will find out in a report two years from now.

  4. Dean Bianco says:

    The over-salting continues unabated. In fact, it seems the DOT are spreading more salt this winter than ever. Countless studies, several “test-areas”, and a ton of lip service from the state. Enough. The lack of action by the DOT warrants a class action lawsuit by residents who are suffering from polluted wells, rotting cars, disintegrating bridges, poisoned wildlife, etc. I’ll be among the first to participate in a law suit against the corrupt and intransigent NYSDOT.

  5. JohnL says:

    I’d like to weigh in on the road salt discussion, but I can’t figure out which of the 2 simultaneous discussions on the exact same subject to weigh in on.

  6. Robert DiMarco says:

    Until we accept snow covered roads and slower speeds, as Humans, nothing will happen

  7. Boreas says:

    I believe we can lessen our dependence on snow/ice treatments my taking Canada’s lead. Quebec and BC require 4 winter tires – period. It is just part of safe driving in snow/ice areas. Road crews and taxpayers should not be required to participate in an impossible effort to negate Nature.

    Tires need to be safe for conditions – even in summer. Bald tires are not permitted in summer for instance, yet people use them even in winter! All-season tires are crap in winter – especially as they wear. Safe tires for winter use need to be viewed as part of driving a vehicle in any state with frequent winter conditions, and the personal expense figured into ownership, just like tags and insurance. Perhaps insurance discounts for regular or studded snow use should be encouraged.

    In addition, modern snow tires are more than capable of being used year-round – it isn’t absolutely necessary to have two sets of tires. With the exception of one summer-only car, all of my vehicles run winter tires year-round. They may wear slightly faster, but they actually have traction below 40 degrees F because of the softer compounds. No swapping in Spring and Fall. But in my case I don’t drive a ton of miles annually (about 12k), so I may not be typical.

    But I do feel more of the responsibility and liability for safe winter driving needs to be transferred to the driver. We can’t get away from plows and some treatments, but safe vehicles and safe driving need to be a larger part of the equation. Isn’t that just common sense??

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