I noticed long lines of white material on the road around Truckee before this last storm, what is the purpose of this and is it environmentally friendly?

The lines of white material that people see on roadways before storms is the result of brine (saltwater) being applied to road surfaces and then drying out after it has been applied. When the water in the saltwater evaporates, the dissolved salt remains on the road surface creating the white lines. The salt reduces ice build-up during storms and improves removal of snowpack on roadways during and after storm events.

The use of rock salt on roadways for snow and ice management has been commonplace for decades. The use of brine instead of rock salt actually reduces the total salt usage as compared to the use of rock salt. The brine is not harmful to the environment and also reduces reliance on road sand.


~ Dan Wilkins, director of public works and engineering, Town of Truckee

I heard that CalTrans is no longer using sand on the roads in the Tahoe Basin due to TRPA requirements. Is this true?

Caltrans still uses sand as part of its snow operations in the Tahoe Basin. We have sand trucks at our Basin maintenance yards in Meyers, Tahoe City, and Truckee. The sand is a Spec H type approved by TRPA for use in the Basin. Our maintenance yards also use brine (mixture of salt and water) and salt during snow operations. Brine and salt are deicers and sand is used to improve traction.

~ Steve Nelson, public information officer, Caltrans District 3

I’m an Incline Village resident and I’ve noticed the roads are much clearer during a snowstorm once I cross the state lines into California, although it used to be the opposite. Why the difference and has anything changed in Incline’s public plow services?

In the Incline Village area, the Nevada Department of Transportation is responsible for maintenance of Mt. Rose Highway and State Route 28. Keeping drivers safe and mobile is our top priority. During winter storms, NDOT maintenance staff divide into two staggered 12-hour shifts to provide 24-hour highway snow removal and keep roads clear while also protecting the roadside environment.

In the last three months, NDOT maintenance staff have dedicated 3,400 man hours to ice and snow removal on Mt. Rose Highway and State Route 28, utilizing nearly 15 pieces of snow removal equipment and salt and sand on the highway for safer winter driving. Dozens of meteorological stations alongside state roads help us pinpoint areas of road needing salt, sand, or brine. We utilize targeted anti-icing prior to storms, helping delay ice pack build-up and allowing us to use less salt and sand on area roads. The roadway salt and sand we utilize is carefully calibrated for targeted use to provide enhanced traction and safety for drivers while reducing environmental impact.

As the economy improved over recent years, more Nevadans found employment in construction, mining, and other industries. It is a positive workforce advancement, but also reduces the employment pool for NDOT roadway maintenance positions, particularly temporary winter road maintenance positions. While this has contributed to vacancies in temporary winter maintenance staff, we have long-established snow removal coverage levels to ensure safety and mobility on each of our highway corridors. We continue to exceed [our goals] the majority of the time, and never go below minimum levels.

~ Meg Ragonese, public information officer, Nevada Department of Transportation

There have been no changes to Washoe County’s Snow and Ice Control Plan, amount of resources, or level of service. With multiple jurisdictions overseeing roads in the area, Incline Village roads are heavily maintained with the goal of ensuring roads are passable, minimizing disruption to traffic. Washoe County and other jurisdictions collaborate regularly to discuss planning and resources. For complete detailed information on Washoe County’s Snow and Ice Control Plan, please visit bit.ly/2QNb2XK. For questions regarding Washoe County roads, please contact Washoe311 by dialing 3-1-1 from any phone.

~ Amy Ventetuolo, media communications specialist, Washoe County

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