Citizen complaint of the day: Let it salt, let it salt, let it salt


A JP citizen is tired of being a-salted this winter:

Is it really necessary to put so much salt on the street? It has been bad all season. Whose nephew owns the salt company? It is bad for the environment and very uncomfortable for dogs.



Free tagging: 


Rosi too

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The salt down the middle of our street was thicker than the snow on the front yard.

Salty sandstorm

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Just drove around some of the streets of Allston and Brighton. Between the wind and the passing cars it looked like a sandstorm on some roads. On some streets there appears to be more salt/sand than there ever was snow.

I agree 100%, my poor dog

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I agree 100%, my poor dog felt it this morning. She knows to look at me with sad eyes and a paw up for me to rub the salt out from her between the pads on her feet. If I thought I could get booties on her feet, it would be worth it.


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You haven't heard anything until you hear the screams of a basenji with salt in her paws. I had to stop 4 times during a 20 minute walk yesterday to pull my gloves off and do my best to wipe her paws and then hold them a bit to warm them up.

I may be buying some musher's wax and see if she'll let me put that on her because I know she won't wear booties. Unless Bag Balm works ... ?

Black Ice

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is extremely dangerous, and many people die as a result of accidents caused by it every year.

When I was a kid, they used a lot of sand taken from near-by beaches. They aren't allowed to do that now. due to self described environmentalist and their 'concerns'. They also are no longer allowed to dump snow into the harbor/bay. these two things alone add up to much higher costs for snow 'salting', and removal. And yes, no doubt some insiders are making $ off of salting and snow removal.

I hate too much salt also, and how it causes damage to roads, tires, boots/shoes, pets, etc. But at the end of the day, this is a classic yuppie/entitled complaint. City Hall would be damed if they do, damed if they didn't.

Your analysis, such as it is,

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Your analysis, such as it is, makes no sense.

Sloppy over-application of salt has nothing to do with preventing black ice, or not being allowed to put snow in the harbor, or not being allowed to take sand from beaches, or yuppies.

Yes, it does make sense

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and the subjects you mentioned are all related in the context I mentioned them. I realize 'yuppies' and some others might be offended by what I posted.

I'm also confused

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What does dumping snow into the harbor have to do with how much salt gets put on the road way? The snow was removed from the road already, where does dumping it elsewhere come into play?

And are you saying if they used sand from the beaches they would use less?

And the yuppies part really makes no sense at all.

Re: Black Ice

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I hope your joking about lack of beach sand snow dumping and so forth. I believe the reasons that shouldn't happen are self evident. But if you need an explanation as to why I can outline them. However, I agree your damned if you do/don't.

Forget about black ice being the major issue these days try the idiots who do 12 miles an hour (can't drive? STAY HOME!), do their make-up while driving (SERIOUSLY? NOTHINGS GOING TO FIX THAT MUG WHEN IT MEETS THE WINDSHIELD), Texting-Reading email or simply using the phone (IF I GET TAPPED OR SIT BEHIND ANOTHER A55HOLE ON THEIR PHONE I'M GOING TO REALLY DESTROY YOUR CAR OR PUSH YOU INTO THE INTERSECTION!)

Back to the orig topic: There was way too much salt on the road. There is no need to drop more salt than snow. I can't even breathe while walking down the street when cars go by

Id rather salt

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than all the dog shit at Jamaica Pond.

May be relative to upcoming weather

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Ice melts from salts due to a lowering of the melting temperature. However, for the next few days, we are going to get a mass of cold air that will beat simple salt. So, in fact, melting snow and ice today will become ice even with salt down for the next 2-3 days.

The stuff they are complaining about looks like more sand than salt for traction. It's also possible the spreader was broken or the truck was slowed driving through there.

So, I'm wondering if what they are seeing is more in response to upcoming weather changes or a temporary result of traffic or something.

Well, the salt will be less

Well, the salt will be less effective, but it will still work . . . it isn't going to be *that* cold down here (single digits, not below zero, last time I checked). I grew up in far northern NH, and from what I remember it needs to be below zero for salt to stop melting ice.

I agree with the OP . . . too much salt.

EDIT: However, salt won't be of much use here (clicky). (Times like these, I'm glad I migrated south . . .)

Depends on the salt used

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Sodium chloride (table salt/ocean salt) is only good down to about 15F out on the streets. I'm guessing they aren't using anything more expensive that would go to lower temperatures, but that's only a guess.

Also, to other respondents, they use plenty of sand. You're welcome to come shovel it out of my dead-end the same way the city does every year in the spring. Maybe I get a special truck because I'm on a significant hill too, but I doubt it.


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It's mostly sodium chloride with 50 - 100 ppm of an anti-caking agent, sodium ferrocyanide. It's mixed with sand but what ends up in the street will vary very widely. Today I marched over patches that seemed to be mostly sand and other parts were entirely snappy-crunchy salt crystals. I did not however have any occasion to get any snow on my feet. I guess they have to do this so they can blow through their snow removal budget and complain that they have no more money for the rest of the year...amiright? amiright?

multiple passes

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In our case, there were multiple passes, sometimes less than an hour apart.

Did they even end up installing GPS units in the trucks? I'd love to see a map that showed how much salt/sand was spread or how many passes over a given stretch.

Looks like salt to me

The stuff they are complaining about looks like more sand than salt for traction. It's also possible the spreader was broken or the truck was slowed driving through there.

Um, Kaz? Respect, but The OP was about 10 feet from a pile of salt, do you really think OP couldn't tell a pile of salt from sand (S**t from shinola) at that distance? Did you do some weird Imgurian chromatography? I get huge tracts of salt in my area of JP also.

All salt here.

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There may be in fact a little sand mixed in, but mostly it's just huge chunks and drifts of salt and yeah--It's rough on dogs' feet and my shoes. I appreciate their being pro-active but it seems like insane overkill.

Nope, salt

That looks just like the salt that was spread in my neighborhood in Allston as well - great big chunks (at least 1/4" on a side) of rock salt, with heaps dumped wherever the truck slowed to a brief stop, such as rounding the corner directly in front of my house. The pinky-brown color does not come from sand mixed in - that's the color of the salt itself.

We, too, have had similar salt overkill every time we've had a sprinkling of snow this winter. Meanwhile, I cleared the snow from my sidewalk this morning with a broom.

I like it when

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the MBTA pours that awful goopy white snow melt several inches deep on one part of the platform. I love stepping in it.

A brief explanation of why this is done

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What we have here is that the predicted storm got pushed offshore much more than expected.

Thus, there was a fairly heavy accumulation predicted and the city planned for that by putting down salt ahead of the storm.

My Dad was a consultant and expert in "winter maintenance". Putting down salt before a storm is a very good idea because it prevents ice from ever forming. The amount you see is probably consistent with the amount of dry salt needed to handle the acumulation and temperature drop that were predicted.

I remember he was most amused when we had an icy storm here a few years back and the DPW was trying to plow ice ... um, no. Sorry. then they were trying to very heavily salt it - which is really wastful. It all could have been prevented by doing what was done here, of course ...

So, yes, this sucks if it doesn't get snowed on but it is really much better to be proactive and prevent ice from forming in the first place.

There is a better way to do this, of course - use brine trucks to spray MUCH less salt on the roads in the form of salt water applied directly to dry pavement - but not all places have these rigs(it is a worthwhile investment as it uses a lot less salt, gets better coverage, and is ultimately cheaper due to lower environmental impact and lower salt use). Dad did an evaluation of brine trucks in various areas of Western Canada and found that they use between 10-20% of the salt of dry salting, and get better results when it comes to preventing ice formation.

Brine trucks

I remember that you've mentioned this before. It's unfortunate that the city of Boston isn't using brine yet, but apparently the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has been treating at least some of the state highways with brine for several years, and just unveiled its first brine production plant this past November.

ATTN: Pet owners -

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If your pets - like my two dogs - hate wearing booties, rub a good amount of Vaseline on and between the pads of their feet before taking them out. And remember to wash afterwards to keep your pups from ingesting road/rock salt.

Pet Owners Part Deux

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One - you should always wash your dogs paws after coming in from a winter walk.

Two - There is a product called Mushers Secret. It is great for the winter or anytime your dogs paws may be in need of some help. I put it on the pup before every walk - helps with the salt BUT you still need to wash and wipe down pawes after the walk.

How about the cost?

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Is anyone else interested in what this is costing tax payers? I've seen at least 10 different times this year that they have had plows and salt/sanders out. And for long stretches (many passes). How many inches have we gotten so far? 4" total? Who is watching this? Seems like massive over kill of city money, no?

OK. Consider the larger costs if the powers that be

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decided the forecasters were going to be wrong, did not pre-treat the roads, and we had a major storm resulting in numerous spinouts and wrecks.

I can see lawyers having a field day with that decision.

The fact is that, if you ignore the indirect costs of all the side effects, salt is generally considered by highway agencies (especially local ones) to be very cost-effective for use on roads. And one of the principal reason that salt use has increased is because the environmental lobby has managed to all but ban the use of either straight sand or a sand/salt mix for snow and ice control. Apparently, someone decided that sand is really evil for the ecosystem because it clogs up storm drains (although I'd take clogged drains once a year over higher salt levels in the water table - not to mention the chances of my car's underframe prematurely rusting out - any day of the week).

And before others respond, yes I am aware that straight sand, while very good for providing traction, has no effect when it comes to melting ice and snow. But I'll leave a discussion of "bare pavement" snow clearance policies - which are another reason salt use has dramatically increased in recent years - for another time.

For the record, I fully agree that the increasingly agressive use of salt on roads in recent years is a major problem that should be investigated. Not so much because of the cost issue (whatever you decide to put down, you're still going to have to pay people in trucks to spread it), but because of the environmental and other effects. When you drive down streets that are almost chalk white, and the winter storm season isn't half over (let alone the fact we haven't had a major snow or ice storm yet), that to me indicates a serious policy problem.


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Talk about sounding uppity. Too much salt on the roads? Oh you poor babies. Too much is better than too little- take it from someone who spun twice while driving her little brother 3 blocks away today for school.


You're clearly not in Boston, or anywhere nearby, if you spun out on an icy road today.

Road salt

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Don't drive so fast!!!! We should not have to have all our cars wrecked by road salt just because you are too stupid to slow down!!!! People like you cost every one lots of money!!!!

Ice in the roads

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As a transportation worker who works days on end making icy roads safe, all I have to say is that if all you A-holes who can't stay off the road in the middle of a snowstorm DIDNT see salt on the roads, you'd have a problem with that too. No one knows what they're talking about in regard to brining. Brining is a pretreatment, not a real time solution. Brine will not help on a road with snow ready on it. Sometimes yes there is too much salt. But it's also sometimes necessary, too much salt is bad as well. I work on the AC Expressway in Jersey. We have to salt heavy sometimes, how else will everyone get to AC to cheat on their wives, get high, and blow their kids college fund?

Thanks for chiming in, but

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If you read Kaz' comment, there was no snow. Therefore, there was no one out in the snow. Were there snow, it would have mixed with the treatment, protecting the motoring public.

The Citizens Connect complaint was about the mess. There was an issue of the fiscal intelligence of so much grit for what ended up being a non event. Of course, a few weeks later we got socked in.

Thanks for chiming in. And with the timeliness of some of the plow drivers after the actual blizzard.