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WisDOT says conserve the road salt

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation issued revised guidelines to county highway departments aimed at keeping state and federal highways safe for winter travel, while helping ensure an adequate supply of road salt for the remainder of this winter.

“This winter has been particularly tough on plow operators and equipment, salt supplies and highway pavements,” said Todd Matheson with WisDOT’s Bureau of Highway Maintenance. “Due to the extreme winter weather, the department is proactively taking a number of steps to extend salt supplies while keeping highways safe and open for travel.”

WisDOT contracts with county highway departments to provide routine maintenance services such as plowing and salting along the State Highway System. Recent guidance from WisDOT to counties aimed at extending salt supplies includes:

• No changes to the level of service on interstate highways.

• Counties will reduce salt application rates on non-interstate routes.

• Increased emphasis on plowing and pre-wetting salt before it is applied to roadways. Pre-wetting helps salt adhere to roads and reduces overall salt use.

• Allowing counties to use sand-salt mixes on lower volume roadways.

Average salt use on the State Highway System is about 500,000 tons per year. At the beginning of this season, 775,000 tons of salt were available and about 135,000 tons remain.

“A lot depends on Mother Nature, but implementing these conservation measures now and continuing to monitor salt inventories weekly will help ensure we’ll have an adequate supply for the rest of this winter season,” Matheson said.