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Oregon highways still on ‘no salt’ diet

Storm may be over, but the great salt debate rages on

KATU-TV, Portland
PORTLAND – The storm that paralyzed the Portland metropolitan area renewed the debate over using salt on roads.
A lot of people may not know that while Oregon does not use salt, Washington does, and now they are looking at using salt more often.

Truckers trapped in Troutdale made it clear how they feel about using salt on Oregon's highways.

"You've got millions of dollars that's being lost. If there's a need for salt, this is it," said Ken Hatt.

However, the Oregon Department of Transportation says salt would do little good during the storm. They say salt would hurt the environment, corrode bridges and rust out your car.

"How many snowy days do we have in Oregon, just a couple, and how many below freezing? Salt is essentially an environmental poison," said Dave Thompson with ODOT.

In Washington, they have a different take on the use of salt, where they mix it with gravel and use it sparingly and only on the worst roads.

Right now they are testing how pure rock salt and salt water work on two stretches of highway, including Interstate-90 near Spokane.

They are hoping to come up with a definitive answer about whether salt is a better way to deal with winter weather.

ODOT says it will closely watch Washington's salt experiment to see how it works.