Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Do we need salted roads?

There is something going on with our local roads that we think everyone in the Wood River Valley ought to be made aware of. The past few years, the Idaho Transportation Department appears to have ramped up the application of salt during the winter season. This practice has proved to be extremely corrosive to not only the underside of automobiles, but also painted surfaces, causing the emergence of rust under the paint after repeated exposure.

Just ask anyone from Michigan or Minnesota. Those innocent looking icicles hanging off your wheel wells are nothing more than salt repositories waiting to do their work on the metal of your car. That light material on the side of your car that looks like harmless dirt is actually a fine coating of salt. One local mechanic has indicated that the undersides of many automobiles here are so corroded that many of the structural and electrical connections are either gone or seriously compromised. Many of us have fairly nice cars, and even though modern cars are supposedly rustproof, no metal can stand up to the ravages of salt.

Next time you drive state Highway 75, especially north of Ketchum, check out the white stains on the median and on the sides next to the shoulder, or look at the area under your car in your garage. That crystalline-like material is the result of heavy applications of salt on the road, and there's no telling what effect it is having on our waterways once it makes its way into the rivers. Apparently, some years ago the state of Vermont found that applied salt from their roads had contaminated maple trees in the vicinity of the roads, making the syrup unfit for collection.

A good rainstorm puts the salt residue back into a solution that coats the underside of your car and runs off into the soil and into our streams. We are not convinced that it is absolutely imperative that we drive on snow-free, dry pavement all winter long when you consider the consequences.

If you share our concern for the amount of salt being deposited on our roads, you can contact the Idaho Transportation Department at and let them know what you think.

Ned Hamlin

Bob Kaplan

Steve Kearns

Al Kuresman

Mike & Terry Murphy

Heinz Schafer

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