Benefits of utilizing salt and sand in the UP

Marquette Public Works uses a sand to salt ratio of 5 to 1
Marquette Public Works uses a sand to salt ratio of 5 to 1(WLUC)
Published: Feb. 2, 2023 at 8:08 AM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - When winter strikes, roads can become slick, which means departments like Marquette City Public Works become busy salting and sanding to keep those safe.

Salt and sand are vital to ensuring safety on winter roads and sidewalks. But many communities have become mindful of how they can affect the surrounding environment. Lake Superior Watershed Partnership said that’s especially true when it comes to using salt near bodies of fresh water.

The program manager for the organization, Tyler Penrod, said the first thing salt runoff can affect is water quality.

“Something else to consider impacts on the environment, specifically water quality, because in the spring when everything melts it just washes into our lakes, our rivers and Lake Superior. That’s one impact and then also on habitat for wildlife it can affect different plant species,” Penrod said.

Penrod said there are tips local residents can do to limit their salt usage.

“Something else to consider would just be using less salt. A lot of people tend to overuse, which is wasteful and costs you more money,” Penrod said. “So one way to think of it is when you do apply salt the next morning when you go out, if you can still see the salt laying on the concrete, then you used too much.”

Director of Marquette Public Works Scott Cambensy said the city also tries to limit salt usage by using it most heavily at high-traffic intersections.

“We do try to limit it. Obviously, there are environmental concerns and there are cost concerns, but you know salt is highly corrosive,” Cambensy said.

Cambensy said they also use a sand-to-salt ratio of five to one which has multiple benefits.

Cambensy said they will use less salt when temperatures are below 15 degrees. Despite the mixture on the roads, Cambensy still urges people to drive safely and give plenty of space.