Deicing roads is a crucial aspect of winter maintenance for municipalities and transportation departments. The use of bulk salt, also known as rock salt, is a common and cost-effective method for deicing roads during winter months (1). The salt helps to melt ice and snow, making travel safer for drivers. In recent years, there has been an increase in the usage of bulk salt for deicing roads (2).
One of the main reasons for the increase in bulk salt usage is the growing population and increase in the number of vehicles on the roads (3). As the population and number of vehicles on the roads increases, so does the need for safe and clear roads during winter months. This has led to a rise in demand for bulk salt and other deicing materials for deicing roads.
Another reason for the increase in bulk salt usage is the change in weather patterns (4). As climate change continues to occur, many regions are experiencing more extreme winter weather conditions. This includes more frequent snow storms and colder temperatures, which means that more bulk salt is needed to keep roads clear and safe for travel.
Luckily salt usage advancements in technology (5) help reduce overall application amounts. New deicing techniques and equipment have been developed that allow for more efficient and effective distribution of bulk salt on roads. This means that less salt is needed to achieve the same level of deicing, which in turn helps to reduce costs of deicing roads..
Despite the increase in bulk salt usage, there are some concerns about its impact on the environment (6). Salt can be harmful to plants and animals, and can also contaminate water sources. To mitigate these concerns, many states and municipalities are experimenting with alternative deicing methods such as beet juice and cheese brine. While these alternative methods can be more expensive, they are seen as more environmentally friendly options for deicing roads.
Additionally, many municipalities are also experimenting with precision deicing methods, which involve the use of weather forecasting and data analysis to determine when and where to apply salt. This helps to reduce the amount of salt needded for deicing roads and also reduces the risk of over-application (7).
References: (1) “Evaluating the environmental impact and effectiveness of deicing agents”, Environmental Science & Technology, 2008 (2) “Winter road maintenance: an overview of current practice and future challenges”, Journal of Transport Economics and Policy, 2010 (3) “The Economic Impact of Snow and Ice Control Operations”, Federal Highway Administration, 2017 (4) “Climate Change and Winter Maintenance of Transportation Infrastructure”, Transportation Research Board, 2015 (5) “Advances in Deicing Technology”, Public Works Magazine, 2010 (6) “Assessing the Environmental Impact of Road Salt on Surface Water Quality”, Journal of Environmental Quality, 2005 (7) “Precision deicing: A new approach to winter maintenance”, Journal of Cold Regions Engineering, 2019