(Monday photo, courtesy of Creighton)
With the uproar today over the city not using salt on roads, after this Times article (which we and sixty-skabillion other sites have linked to in the past 20 hours or so), we asked Rick Sheridan at SDOT if there is an official city statement, just to get their side of the story. Here’s what he e-mailed back:
The City of Seattle has not used salt as its principal de-icer since the mid 1990s. Instead we use a chemical de-icer that is effective, more environmentally friendly and less damaging to vehicles and roads. Salt, when it runs off from roadway surfaces, is harmful to vegetation, waterways and wildlife. Fresh water habitat, which shelters fish such as salmon, is especially impacted. The other significant problem is the corrosive impact of salt on metal and other man-made materials. It corrodes cars, city equipment, roadways, and our many bridges and viaducts. So the use of salt comes with a very heavy price tag.
The City of Seattle uses a de-icer, Geomelt C, that provides similar benefits without all of salt’s problems. It has worked effectively in all of Seattle’s recent winter storms, to include the big storm of 1996. The City of Portland and the Oregon Department of Transportation use the same approach. Our de-icer helped clear primary arterials citywide, such as Fauntleroy Way SW and the West Seattle Bridge, and is now part of our efforts on secondary arterials throughout the city.
On a slightly related note, we also asked for a little more info on this grader, which we didn’t recall hearing about or seeing before today (photo’s from California/Thistle at mid-afternoon):
Here’s its backstory:
The road grader is from SDOT’s vehicle fleet. SDOT purchased it within the last
year for grading projects, and snow and ice removal. It typically serves in the northern part of Seattle on Aurora Avenue, a long straight roadway, and is utilized when we have significant accumulations of snow and ice. Given needs elsewhere in the city, SDOT deployed it to Elliott Avenue, downtown and West Seattle. It is great for straight roads and hills (due to its traction). The grader is one of many vehicles we have working on snow and ice clearing in Seattle.
It was seen today on SW Thistle and SW Holden (both hilly and straight).