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Winter Maintenance and Operations

Snow plow on road


ODOT winter maintenance practices include plowing, sanding and applying winter anti-icing liquid and salt. The combination of practices used may vary to accommodate the different climate, traffic, and storm conditions. ODOT's goal is to improve road conditions during and after a storm. However, it is always up to the motorist to drive according to conditions.  For more details on ODOT's winter maintenance practices and salt pilot, see below:
 
Winter Maintenance Practices

 

ODOT's winter highway maintenance practices reduce costs and limit impacts on natural resources while maintaining high standards for public safety -- our No. 1 priority.  ODOT's maintenance practices during snow removal include:
  • Reducing plowing speeds in sensitive areas
  • Minimizing snow blowing into sensitive areas
Sanding material is sometimes applied on roads and bridges to provide better traction for safer driving.  ODOT's practices minimize effects on natural resources by:
  • Reducing application rates and frequency of sanding when weather and traffic conditions allow
  • Minimizing sanding in areas with air quality problems or near waterways and other sensitive areas
  • Placing barriers to capture sanding material along sensitive waterways
The use of liquid deicer is an effective way to provide a reasonably safe road surface during winter conditions.  ODOT uses magnesium chloride (MgCl2) with rust inhibitor, both as an anti-icer before a storm to help prevent ice and snow from bonding to the road, and as a deicer after a storm to help break the bond between ice and road.  Use of this chemical helps reduce the use of sand - which limits impacts on air quality, water quality and aquatic habitat.  ODOT uses:
  • The lowest application rate necessary to achieve desired road conditions
  • A product that meets the strict specifications of the Pacific Northwest Snowfighters, a consortium of western states and provinces.
In the winter of 2017-2018, ODOT expanded its use of solid salt (NaCl, commonly called rock salt or table salt) after determining some best management practices from a five year pilot project on two highways.  For more information on ODOT's salt pilot, see the Salt Pilot Information.
 
We believe protecting the environment while providing a safe transportation system is a smart move.  Plowing, sanding and deicing do not, however, make the road completely safe.  Travelers have a shared responsibility to travel safely.  Drive at speeds appropriate for road and weather conditions; consider delaying travel if necessary.
 
Know before you go: Visit www.TripCheck.com, Oregon’s travel information website, for up-to-the-minute road conditions and more information on Oregon’s chain law and chain requirements. You can also get the latest in road conditions by calling 511.
Salt Pilot Information

 

In the winter of 2017-2018, ODOT expanded its use of solid salt (NaCl, commonly called rock salt or table salt) after determining some best management practices from a five-year pilot project on two highways.
The pilot helped us determine how to use solid salt, in combination with the snow fighting tools we already use, to improve highway safety and mobility while attempting to minimize impact to the environment. The two test areas for the five-year pilot connect Oregon with states that already use salt on the same highways:
  • U.S. 95 in southeastern Oregon runs about 121 miles between Nevada and Idaho, which both use salt. ODOT used salt in limited situations on this highway, except in areas near a city water supply
  • Interstate 5 over the Siskiyou Pass connects Oregon with California, which already uses salt on the Interstate. ODOT is used salt in limited situations on 11 miles of this highway

The goal of the pilot was to create similar road surface conditions on each highway no matter what state drivers were traveling in, while attempting to minimize environmental impact. We are treating solid salt as just another tool in our toolbox—not the only tool in the box.

The expansion of our use of salt in late 2017 affects primarily I-84, I-5 and, at times, Oregon’s major urban areas:
  • ODOT may use salt on about 200 miles of I-84, from near Boardman to the Idaho border. Our goal in this area is to reduce ice on the interstate caused by freezing fog, freezing rain and heavy snow storms
  • ODOT may use salt on about 100 miles of I-5, from near Canyonville to the California border. Our goal in this area is to reduce ice forming on the steep inclines travelers face on several parts of I-5.

ODOT will possibly use salt on the remaining sections of I-5 and I-84 and on major highways in the Portland, Salem and Eugene metro areas, if a particular storm warrants its limited use and if salt is available.

Locations where salt may be used:
Salt Locations Map
 
ODOT is concerned about the impact of salt on the environment, infrastructure and vehicles.  ODOT will continue to implement best practices for storing and using salt, and will pursue appropriate research to inform effective decision making.
 
We strongly recommend that you wash your vehicle after winter storms.




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