EUGENE, Ore. — The Oregon Department Transportation will use road salt as a new strategy against icy highways.

The decision comes after a brutal 2016 ice storm that ravaged parts of Lane County in western Oregon, the Register-Guard reported.

The agency has approved road salt use along all of Interstate 5 in Oregon.

The department will only use the salt as a last resort, said Kevin Finch, the department’s transportation maintenance manager.

“It will only be used when we need to use it,” he said on Tuesday.

The state decided to expand its road-salt project that started in 2012 partially in response to that storm.

The road salt would have been useful after the 2016 ice storm when crews needed to break up the ice, officials said.

Before 2012, state road crews had not used salt in Oregon for at least 50 years, said Angela Beers Seydel, a spokeswoman for the department.

Public agencies statewide have avoided using road salt in the past for a variety of reasons including cost and environmental concerns.

It is commonly used in any many other parts of the country in the winter.

The salt, which melts ice and snow, works best in 20 to 32 degree temperature.

Lane County and city of Eugene road crews don’t use road salt, county and city officials said.

Instead crews rely on sand or other gritty compounds along with a chemical de-icer to help break up the ice.

“We are interested in ODOT’s experience here in the southern Willamette Valley” with salt, City of Eugene spokesman Brian Richardson said Tuesday, “but we don’t have any immediate plans to use salt on Eugene roads.”

The state purchased 25,000 pounds (11,340 kilograms) of salt for use in the county. The supply cost the state $1,880.


Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com

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