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Kansas DOT: Salt for Roads in High Demand

December 30, 2008

TOPEKA, KS --- Salt supplies for roadways during inclement winter weather are in short supply compared to previous winters, according to Peter Carttar, assistant bureau chief in construction and maintenance for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT).

"There were so many wide-ranging snow and ice storms the last two winters across the entire Midwest, KDOT is now forced to compete against other DOTs, city and county maintenance departments for salt," Carttar said. "It's a limited resource and everyone is trying to stock up on salt."

KDOT began early this summer to restock its salt domes across the state. However, there have been delays in deliveries, Carttar said. "KDOT will need to be conservative with salt use so that materials are available throughout the winter," he added.

Carttar said KDOT uses various techniques and technologies in its fight against inclement winter weather. A few examples include:

-- Salt brine pretreatment of bridges and certain roadways when conditions are appropriate. This technique works to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement, which makes it easier to remove both during and after the storm.

-- Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) technology that uses remote sensors across the state to measure air and pavement temperatures, wind speed, visibility and other pavement conditions to give maintenance crews better information on conditions and weather forecasters better information for their forecasts.

-- Salt spreader control equipment in trucks to help monitor and control how much salt is being put on the road for maximum effectiveness.

-- Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) research to assist maintenance workers in choosing the right maintenance action at the right time and to provide real-time information throughout and after a storm.

The KDOT said it is studying these and other methods and technology to identify potential for improvement. In addition, the department said, Kansas motorists can also help in the efforts. "Call 511 Travel Info on the KDOT website before you go," Carttar said. "Stay off the roads as much as possible during inclement weather. But if you are traveling, always buckle up, reduce your speed and give our crews on the highways extra room. Driving safely is everyone's job."

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