Salt and Alternatives

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The worst storm so far this winter had road crews out even before the first flakes fell this weekend. The West Virginia Department of Highways was one of those "road warriors". It reported everything on main roads clear by Monday morning.

At this time in 2003, highway departments were dealing with both icy roads and a shortage of road salt. That has not been a problem so far this year.

"Last year, there was a collapse in one of the salt mines, which hindered production of salt for the entire East Coast," according to Rusty Roten of the West Virginia Department of Highways. "We don't seem to have that problem this year."

The Ohio Department of Transportation, meantime, has been experimenting since last winter with brine treatments. Those have helped cut down on the use of salt on major highways, and so far it's been working out pretty well.

"It offers us a little extra time because it helps us to start melting the snow and the ice when it first hits the roadway," says ODOT District 10 spokeswoman Stephanie Filson. "Our crews have a little extra time to get out and start clearing the snow with the plows."

Even before Sunday's snow, ODOT had used 660 tons of salt, 250 tons of cinders and 130 gallons of brine on Washington County roads. It also used 780 gallons of calcium chloride, which treats slick roads when the temperature falls below 20 degrees.

For an update on road conditions in West Virginia call 1-877-982-7623.

In Ohio, call 1-888-264-7623.