Skipping the salt: Does salt improve icy road conditions?

Skipping the salt: Does salt improve icy road conditions? »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. -- If you moved to the Portland area since the last big snow storm a few years ago, you may not realize until now that Oregon doesn’t use salt to treat the roads.

An Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) spokesperson, Dave Thompson, said there’s little need for salt in the Northwest. He said it only makes a difference when temperatures are far below freezing for several days in a row.

“Salt only really helps when it’s a whole lot colder,” Thompson said, adding that it’s bad for the environment. “It causes damage to our infrastructure, to your car and to the environment in terms of water supplies and fish.”

However, officials with the Washington Department of Transportation argue salt is necessary and helpful.

“Salt helped burn through the snow bottom and down to the bare pavement,” said Bill VanAntwerp, assistant maintenance superintendent for WSDOT. “It’s another tool in the toolbox.”

VanAntwerp said salt was used in the Southwest Washington area the past few days and “definitely” improved road conditions.

Do you think Oregon should stay away from the salt or start to use it? Add your thoughts in the comment section.