We noticed a few days ago that Highway 140 had black lines on it. We're assuming these were salt lines. Are we correct?

We noticed a few days ago that Highway 140 had black lines on it. We're assuming these were salt lines. Are we correct?

— Bill S., email



You were close, Bill, but those lines are actually from a de-icer used by the Oregon Department of Transportation to clear ice from the roads.

According to ODOT spokesman Gary Leaming, the department doesn't use salt on state highways anymore, relying instead on a de-icing compound called magnesium chloride.

The magnesium chloride is used to treat the roadway before freezing weather and snowstorms, because the chemical composition prevents the ice from sticking to the roadway and allows ODOT crews to get down to asphalt more easily. Leaming added that sand is often used in conjunction with the de-icer to increase traction.

Leaming explained the de-icer was more cost effective than using salt, as the department doesn't need to send out graders to "shave the pack" like they would if they were using salt.

"The best tool, however, is information for motorists," said Leaming, who encourages drivers to use www.tripcheck.com, a website maintained by ODOT that provides up-to-date information on road and weather conditions, along with rest stop locations, highway cameras and information for truckers.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.