Between a rock (salt) and a hard place

The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut has a little problem on its hands. The salt and liquid magnesium chloride mixture the state Department of Transportation uses to treat roads after a snowstorm works well. But they want it banned anyway.

“We were pretty happy with it earlier this week,” said Mike Riley, the association’s president. “We admit this works better than anything else.”

But the association will be supporting state legislation this session to prohibit its use in Connecticut.

“Generally speaking it eats the bottom of trucks up pretty bad,” he said. “It’s really pretty ugly stuff.”

According to DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick, the salt/magnesium chloride combo known as “salt priority” is pretty universally used in winter weather states. In fact, he said, Connecticut was the last state in New England and one of the last in the country to adopt its use — dumping the old sand/salt mixture — about six years ago.

“We were watching sister states,” he said. “We wanted to see how it worked for a time before making the switch.”

Riley said the solution he always hears is that truckers should just wash their vehicles more. But he said regulations on how to do that and runoff concerns don’t always allow it. He also said washing sometimes pushes the salt further into truck components, making things worse.

Nationally, he said, the trucking industry is working with manufacturers to build tighter, better parts that keep the salt out.

In the meantime in Connecticut: “We want to start a conversation,” Riley said. “We understand the problem, but we don’t know the solution.”