Winter weather prep; ODOT crews extend salt path

White City, Ore. — Fall is starting to feel like winter in some parts of the region.  So far, more than two feet of snow has fallen on the mountain, and another foot is expected in the next few days.

Road crews across the valley are prepared to keep you safe. ODOT’s Salt Pilot Program has been in the works for a few years now. Most recently, it’s extended its salt path to reach Canyonville and Ashland.

Though there’s been public concern about using salt on roads. ODOT is assuring everyone, it’s only using it, when they absolutely have to.

“Oh, it’s a major factor,” Larry Manning said. Manning is a truck driver referring to caring for the roads.

“Whether it’s secondary roads or the interstates,” Manning said.

He knows these roads well, he’s been a driver for 33 years.

“It’s all about road treatments, especially,” Manning said.

Especially, this time of year.

“I’d say Oregon and Washington are about the two best states, as far as keeping their roads and pre-treating them when a storm is coming,” Manning said.

Part of road preparations for ODOT this season is extending the salt path on I-5, to stretch from Canyonville to Ashland.

“This includes the three summits north of Grants Pass and Canyon Mountain,” said Gary Leaming, ODOT.

While salting roadways has some Oregonians concerned about their vehicles, ODOT said it’s only used as a last option.

“Depending on the conditions, we’ll add a little bit of salt – anywhere from 100 to 300 pounds per lane mile to help with that action to get us out of or keep us out of a chain requirement,” Leaming said.

Leaming said requiring chains can be inconvenient – and sometimes dangerous – for drivers.

“Anytime we put a chain requirement on, we had people who a didn’t have chains, didn’t know how to put chains on, had their legs out into traffic and were a hazard to themselves and others,” Leaming said.

While manning appreciates quality roads, he understands the job of staying safe, ultimately falls on the driver’s shoulders.

“Got to have your tires maintained, carry your chains, whether you chain or not,” Manning said.

And the driver’s foot pedal.

“Just common sense. Slow down. Just common sense,” Manning said.

ODOT said when prepping for winter weather, it starts with a liquid de-icer, a saline product, to help prevent build up. If weather gets worse, it’ll start to sand – using a cinder product – and then utilize snow plows. If after those steps, weather gets even worse – ODOT said that’s when it will start to use salt.

Some images/video used in the video above are courtesy of ODOT. 

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