Transportation officials hope blue salt melts complaints

Tint will enable residents to see streets are treated

December 18, 2004|By Doug Donovan | Doug Donovan,SUN STAFF

To Baltimore Transportation Director Al Foxx, snow is a four-letter word in more ways than one.

But yesterday Foxx had two other four-letter words to let city residents know that his department is ready to battle the wintry adversary: blue salt.

At a downtown news conference yesterday, Foxx announced that 1,000 tons of blue salt would soon be at his department's disposal for a test run in designated neighborhoods when snow hits.

The colorful salt won't make the snow melt any faster than regular salt, but Foxx hopes it will pre-empt criticism from residents complaining that their snow-covered streets have not been salted.

Residents will know city trucks have come by because they will be able to see the blue salt on the street, city officials said.

Another 2,000 tons of blue salt, which costs $4 more per ton than regular salt, is on the way next month to add to the city's total store of 18,000 tons of salt.

The neighborhoods that can expect to see the blue salt - although it's not promised for the first snowstorm - are Westfield, Rosemont, Pimlico, Federal Hill, Locust Point and Edmondson Village, city officials said.

The city spends about $15,000 per hour fighting snowstorms with 350 people and 170 pieces of equipment. Foxx said the city has budgeted about $4.5 million for the effort this year and that the equipment is ready to go.

In addition, Foxx said, his department has deployed new signs that allow for alternate side parking on streets that are designated snow routes.

When the city declares a Phase 2 snow emergency, residents must obey the snow route signs, which generally prohibit parking to make way for plows.

There are nearly 400 miles of roads that are part of the city's snow emergency routes. Signs that forbid parking in the routes during a snow emergency are posted.

Two new signs, however, will give residents the option of alternate-side parking. White signs designate no parking from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during snow emergencies on whichever side of the street it is posted. Black signs prohibit parking from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.

The city also will be plowing school parking lots and permitting residents to park cars there during snow emergencies.

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