ODOT is launching two pilot projects that would use salt in limited weather and roadway conditions to help make two specific highway segments safer. The two pilot projects focus on areas adjoining neighboring states that use salt on their parts of these highways. Travelers crossing the state border expect similar roadway conditions across the state border but run into vastly different conditions, which increase the likelihood of crashes and injuries.
The two pilots are on I-5 in the Siskiyou Pass area and on US 95 between Nevada and Idaho.
- Interstate 5: California uses salt to reduce the buildup of snowpack on Interstate 5 in the Siskiyou Pass. Oregon’s side of I-5 often experiences packed snow; Oregon has to impose chain conditions, requiring travel delays or road closures. ODOT wants to investigate the use of salt in limited conditions on an 11-mile stretch of I-5 at the border, to match driver’s expectations of similar highway surface conditions.
- US 95: Both Nevada and Idaho use salt to reduce snowpack on U.S. 95, which runs for about 120 miles through the southeast corner of Oregon. At the two state borders, travelers entering Oregon experience very different roadway conditions, moving from slush to hard-packed snow and ice. These border areas experience more crashes. Using salt in limited conditions could help improve roadway surface consistency, reducing dangerous driving conditions and reducing crashes and injuries.
ODOT recognizes that salt is corrosive. Maintenance crews are taking precautions to protect the environment and highway infrastructure. Crews will only use salt in limited weather and roadway conditions; liquid deicer and sanding material will remain ODOT’s primary tools.
ODOT will conduct these pilot projects for five years to assess whether the limited use of salt can help reduce crashes and injuries and meet driver’s expectation across state borders. ODOT does not have any plans to use salt anywhere else.