New development can help speed up salt trucks

New development can help speed up salt trucks

L’ANSE — Workers at the Michigan Department of Transportation’s L’Anse Maintenance Facility have come up with another solution to a winter road maintenance problem.

“I don’t know if any of you have been on multi-lane expressways where you get up to a salt truck, and they’re going 25 miles an hour down the road in the way of traffic and everything,” said MDOT Transportation Maintenance Specialist John Dault. “It’s because of bounce and scatter, and the salt flies off the road.”

One goal during winter maintenance is to keep a majority of de-icing material on the road near where drivers’ wheels will make contact. Driving at a low speed helps prevent material from being wasted by bouncing off the road when it’s dropped from the rear of a salt truck. The L’Anse facility’s solution allows that speed to increase — and bounce and scatter to decrease — by instead routing de-icing material under the rear wheel of the vehicle.

“We have tested it at fifty miles an hour — zero bounce and scatter — and put it on the roads. Tell me what that does for the motorist going down the road. There’s safety there,” Dault added.

The solution will primarily help on expressways, but there is already a prototype working on the roads in Baraga County.

“We’re working on it in L’Anse and we’ve taken it right to Lansing direct,” said Dault. “We are looking at modifying our trucks a little bit during build-up and stuff so that we can accommodate this. This is coming. I would say in the next five years, it’s going to be an accepted practice.”