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Environmental Stewardship & Initiatives

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Environmental Services

In addition to MassDOT Highway's progressive approach for the investigation and remediation of water supplies potentially contaminated by road salt due to winter maintenance operations, MassDOT Highway takes a proactive approach in ensuring that environmental stewardship is of an utmost priority when dealing with matters of this nature. To that end, MassDOT Highway has implemented a series of initiatives aimed at promoting the effective and efficient use of deicing chemicals.

Snow and Ice Materials Usage Committee: In conjunction with MassDOT Highway Operations personnel, the Environmental Services Section has formed a committee to review, evaluate, and potentially revise the Reduced Salt Policy, on an annual basis. The Committee is also responsible for the review and revision of current deicing chemical application policies, Best Management Practices (BMPs) and assessment of potential alternative deicing chemicals.

Unionized and Privatized Forces Training: This program initiative provides additional training to unionized and privatized forces for the proper management and application of deicing chemicals. MassDOT Highway and privatized personnel are trained on an annual basis on different aspects of snow and ice control. The training module includes and environmental component to instill into the labor forces and appreciation and understanding of how salt can adversely impact drinking water supplies and environmentally sensitive areas. Tailgate training sessions for privatized forces are conducted in selected areas to emphasize the importance of salt management BMPs, which are aimed at protecting the environment and the motoring public.

Salt Storage and Housekeeping BMPs: There is an existing SOP for the management of sand and deicing chemicals at MassDOT Highway facilities, ENV-01-08-1-000. However, a new SOP for the proper management of sand and deicing chemicals at MassDOT Highway facilities after storm events or materials deliveries is under development.

Equipment Performance and Evaluation: The Salt Remediation Program has developed a research problem statement to analyze technology implementation and spreader performance in an effort to improve salt management techniques. The approved research is to be funded by the FHWA and the two years of research was initiated in the fall of 2009.

The Research will focus on:

  • Developing and implementing GIS data layers for areas with reduced salt zones to achieve improved communication between both MassDOT Highway and privatized Snow and Ice personnel
  • Monitoring the performance of both state and privatized equipment to evaluate and compare prescribed material application rates to actual application rates
  • Developing BMPs for salt application aimed at improving equipment performance in an effort to control costs and be protective of the environment

Use of Alternative Deicing Chemicals: MassDOT Highway began using a corrosion inhibited magnesium chloride (MgCl2) along a section of Interstate 95 in Boxford. This section of interstate highway was identified as an ideal location for the use of an alternative deicer due to the prevalence of private well salt contamination complaints in the vicinity. Due to its performance along I-95 in Boxford, MassDOT Highway is now using (MgCl2) as a roadway pre-treatment chemical in many areas across the state.

Use of New Technologies: MassDOT Highway is continually evaluating new technologies that may help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of snow and ice operations. An RT3 Friction Meter is currently being used to measure road friction conditions during snow and ice events on sections of Interstate 95 and Route 2 in Lexington and Weston. More about Surface Traction Measurement Technologies.

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