(November 5, 2013) – State Highway Administration (SHA) crews in Western Maryland have already hit the roads for the first snowfall of the season. Crews and contractors have been reviewing ways to treat roads effectively while reducing salt scatter, resulting is less salt used on the highways. 

SHA will prep all salt before it is applied to the highways. This process, which involves spraying a salt brine solution to the salt before it is spread on the road, reduces scatter and improves salt effectiveness. In years past, salt was simply spread directly to the highways and some would scatter and bounce off of the road. Pre-wetting the salt immediately before application significantly reduces salt scatter and waste.

“Careful pre-storm planning and preparation are keys in reducing the amount of salt deposited on highways,” said Anthony Crawford, SHA District Engineer for Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties. “For years, SHA has been adopting the latest techniques and best practices solutions for reducing salt usage, particularly in environmentally sensitive areas.”
SHA Clearing State Roads in Garrett County November 2012

SHA is prepared for all conditions for winter 2013/2014.

Before the Storm

SHA may treat interstates in advance of a storm using salt brine (water with melted salt).  Pre-treating helps prevent ice and snow from sticking or bonding to the pavement at the onset of a storm. This allows SHA crews to be “ahead of the game” and reduces overall salt usage.

Pre-treating will not take place if a storm is forecast to begin as rain because the brine solution will wash off and be ineffective. SHA currently has two salt brine facilities and store the brine at three sites in western Maryland. The salt barns are filled at SHA locations in Mountain Maryland with more than 64,000 tons of salt and nearly 151,000 gallons of salt brine.  

SHA works hard to keep roads available for travel during snow storms so that access to critical services, such as hospitals, can be maintained.  However, quite often, the best advice SHA’s drivers can offer is to wait before setting out to drive and “Know Before You Go.”  Maryland now has free 511 traveler information.  Call 511 or 1-855-GOMD511 or visit:  for current travel information. Sign up to personalize travel route information through MY511 on the website.  Remember to use 511 safely - Maryland law restricts hand-held mobile phone use and texting while driving.
Additionally, travelers can plan ahead before hitting the pavement by logging onto at and clicking on “CHART” (Coordinated Highway Action Response Team).  The CHART website offers a treasure trove of travel information, snow emergency plans, real-time traffic camera views, weather information and average travel speed maps. 
Outreach to the trucking industry is essential in reducing weather-related congestion. A single jackknifed tractor trailer can cause significant delays and prevent SHA from treating roadways during the height of a storm. SHA is expanding communications with trucking firms, trade publications and radio stations and satellite radio providers to reach out to the trucking community. With real-time knowledge of road conditions, route planners and truckers can use alternate routes and avoid becoming disabled.

SHA offers truckers safe haven with emergency parking during winter storms where precipitation reaches six or more inches and present particular challenges for drivers of big trucks. SHA created a mobile phone application and an icon that can be downloaded which is available on SHA’s website and can be accessed by clicking here. 

SHA is making it easy to get safety tips and information on the go through Twitter @MDSHA and on Facebook at