Environmental stewardship & initiatives

MassDOT Highway has implemented a series of initiatives to promote effective and efficient use of deicing materials.

Snow and Ice Material Usage Committee

This committee works in conjunction with MassDOT Highway Operations to review and revise chemical application policies and operational procedures, and to establish Best Management Practices (BMPs).

Upon committee approval, MassDOT has been implementing a range of strategies on a statewide basis to reduce road salting and minimize the environmental impact of roadway deicers, while providing reasonably safe roads. Improvements made over the past few years include, but are not limited to the increased use of pre-treating and pre-wetting techniques using corrosion inhibited magnesium chloride to reduce the overall application of sodium chloride. Recent technology and equipment advances provide more consistent application with the use of closed loop controllers for material spreaders.

Other Initiatives

Annual snow and ice training is held for MassDOT employees and contractors, emphasizing adherence to BMPs for salt storage, housekeeping, proactive operations, material selection and application. Training increases operator awareness of the specific area and includes a discussion on the cause and effect of deicing material application in environmentally sensitive areas as well as specific ways we can improve our operations in each area.

MassDOT continues to expand its fixed and mobile station network, Road Weather Information System (RWIS), to collect and transmit weather and road condition data. Many of the RWIS stations have closed circuit cameras that allow for real-time, visual monitoring of road and weather conditions. The type of data collected includes air and pavement temperatures, wind speed, relative humidity, moisture and precipitation. The RWIS data helps to determine the status of road conditions and make informed decisions in determining when chemical applications may be needed.

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