There are cheaper, safer alternatives to road salt [Letter]

December 11, 2013

I was particularly pleased to read Gregory Wilburn's letter advocating for the state to rein in the use of road salt ("Road salt is killing Garrett County," Dec. 7).

Sellers of road salt have long promoted it as a "cheap" solution to melt snow and ice. However, independent studies have shown that government use actually costs about $1,200 per ton in infrastructure damage — in addition to the upfront expense and shipping costs.

The studies flagged deteriorating infrastructure, polluted water sources and contaminated soil — all at taxpayers expense. If researchers had also calculated consumer damage costs — expensive vehicle corrosion, destroyed footwear, deaths to dogs — the amount would be even higher.

Forward thinking jurisdictions in North America, Europe and Asia have being using more environmentally sensitive approaches to achieve winter safety, protect infrastructure and save money. Mr. Wilburn is right: Hopefully local officials will be as open-minded to this approach as those in other communities.

Ted Scaldwell

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