Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Question: When was salt used first on the roads during the winter?







Hi folks -- We had our snow threat(!) last evening. No accumulation in the south suburbs of Dayton, but as I drove back in the snow/rain mix the ODOT trucks were all around I-675. I wonder if they put salt down, because if they did my driving of the Porsche has to stop.

When was salt first used? I wonder if it was in part urged on by the manufacturers, who only gain by decreasing the desirability of used cars and thereby the corrosion speeding up the replacement process.

Yes, salt results in safer roads. But what are other alternatives? Use of mass transit? Non-corrosive substitutes? Stay home? Slow down?

Is there a conspiracy here?

From the National Snow and Ice Data Center:



It was in fact the popularity of the motorcar that would create a whole new set of problems for snow removal crews. By 1925, over seventeen million cars were registered, vastly increasing the demand for dry, safe streets. As motorcars took to the streets in force, public safety demanded snow removal efforts even for snowfalls less than four inches. Due to increased dependence on the automobile, not only main thoroughfares needed clearing, but residential streets as well. Scenic snowfalls once reminiscent of winter merrymaking became unbearable, and the freezing weather once welcomed by sleigh parties create hazardous driving conditions. Automobile accidents were rapidly rising due to weather-related conditions.
Slick layers of ice left behind by snow plowing, renewed demands for salt and sand use. No longer concerned about protests, city public works officials used salt by the ton to ease road conditions, and also experimented with cinders and sand. Motorized salt spreaders became the primary tool in fighting snowy roads, and businesses and private citizens as well used tons of salt to keep driveways, sidewalks and access routes clear of snow and ice. However, several cities in the Great Lakes region were unable to use salt due to the extremely frigid weather that rendered salt almost ineffective. In any city, while salt works well on icy roads or minimal snowfall, it does little good against deep snow.
Parked and abandoned vehicles posed the other great problem faced by snow removal crews. Urban streets now provided parking places, which in winter months hampered snowplowing efforts. Desperately needing to clear the streets, plows ended up packing huge, compacted drifts against parked cars, forcing unwary owners to dig them out. Realizing there was a conflict, city ordinances were created, banning overnight parking for certain city areas, or posting signs marking snow plow routes, where parking would be banned when plows were in use. Many of these ordinances are still in effect throughout major cities, increasing the efficiency and thoroughness of plowing efforts.

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