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Winter Road Treatment & Snow Removal
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Snow & Ice

The MassDOT Highway Division uses a variety of Road Treatment Materials both before and after storm events to ensure the safety of those traveling on our roadways. All the materials applied to roadways must follow strict Application Guidelines that take into account the pavement temperature, type of precipitation and of course environmental factors. In fact, Highway's Environmental Service/Salt Remediation Program addresses the need for Reduced Salt Areas based upon our Reduced Salt Policy (71KB).

While plowing the roadways, Highway crews try to minimize the amount of snow that gets plowed into driveways. Also, as long as there is snow in the street, the plow driver will continue to plow the street. Some of this additional snow will end up at the driveway opening. Please know that it is the responsibility of the property owner to clear their driveway opening. To avoid double work while Clearing Your Driveway try to shovel snow from your driveway after the plow has been by, and shovel the snow to the right side of your driveway as you face the road instead of to the left.

To learn more about winter road treatment and snow removal read some of the frequently asked questions, FAQ's, contained in this website.

Road Treatment Materials Before and During Storm Events

1. salt is spread on ice/snow surface - 2. salt melts through snow/ice, forming brine - 3. remaining snow/ice floats on brine, breaking bond with road surface - 4. vehicle traffic breaks through the surface, reducing snow/ice to plowable slush and moving it to the sides of the roadDe-Icing- Is the process of removing ice from a surface. When a deicing solution such as salt is applied to a surface a brine solution is created. Brine is water saturated or nearly saturated with salt and has a lower freezing point than water. The brine loosens the ice or snow from the pavement.


Anti-Icing- Works like a de-icing solution by using a brine solution to lower the temperature at which water freezes. Anti-icers are applied prior to snowfall to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement.

Typical Road Treatment Materials used during Snow and Ice operations:
Common Chemicals Use Advantages Disadvantages
Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride) Chemical used to either break the bond of ice to the pavement or used to prevent it from forming by lowering the freezing point of water. Inexpensive. Very effective. Readily available. Impact on the Environment. Corrosivity.
Doesn't work at low temperatures.
Sand Used only in Reduced Salt Zones and at very low temperatures when Rock Salt will not work effectively. Inexpensive. Works at low temperatures. Available. Impact on the Environment. Does not melt snow and ice. Clogs drainage structures. Expenses to sweep and dispose of.
Pre-Mix (Sodium Chloride/Calcium Chloride blend) The material is used in "reduced-salt areas" and elsewhere when air temperature is very low. Less harmful to the environment. Works at a lower temperature. Expensive. Must be stored and kept dry.
Liquid Calcium Chloride The material works by attracting moisture and releasing heat. When mixed with salt it melts up to eight times as much ice as using salt alone at 20 degrees. Very effective for pre-treatment or direct liquid application.
Works at low temperatures.
Expensive. Applications must be timed correctly.
Liquid Magnesium Chloride Used as pre-treatment to prevent snow and ice from sticking to pavement. Less harmful to the environment. Works at low temperatures. Less harmful to equipment. Expensive. Application must be timed correctly.

 

Clearing Your Driveway

clearing your driveway diagram

The diagram above indicates the suggested driveway clearing method and best mailbox locations to avoid damage to your property, and to help minimize the amount of snow in your driveway after the plow passes. While plowing the roadways Highway crews try to minimize the amount of snow that gets plowed into driveways. Also, as long as there is snow in the street, the plow driver will continue to plow the street. Some of this additional snow will end up at the driveway opening. Please know that it is the responsibility of the property owner to clear their driveway opening. To avoid double work while Clearing Your Driveway try to shovel snow from your driveway after the plow has been by, and shovel the snow to the right side of your driveway as you face the road instead of to the left.

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