February 16, 2011

Local roads put on low-salt diet

Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- A town-wide salt-reduction plan approved by the Town Council on Monday evening aims to reduce the high chloride levels within the Beaver Brook watershed in the southern part of town.During the Feb. 14 council meeting, Public Works Director Janusz Czyzowski shared a detailed presentation on the plan, along with a bit of the area’s history.
Beaver Brook, a 4.86-mile stream that runs through Au­
burn, Chester, Derry and Londonderry, has an associated watershed of over 30 miles and is located within the Interstate 93 corridor. 

According to Czyzowksi, the area has been identified by both the state Department of Environmental Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as having chloride concentrations exceeding state water quality standards. 
Public works officials attributed the high chloride levels to the high amount of salt runoff from roadway de-icing during the winter months. 
Several years ago, the town of Londonderry agreed to work toward reducing the amount of salt applied to its roads. 
Salem, Windham, Derry and Chester reportedly signed similar agreements with the state. 
Londonderry maintains more than 184 miles of public roads, along with nearly 26 acres of municipal parking lots in town. Nearly 78 miles of those roads and two public parking lots totaling just over 2 acres are within the Beaver Brook watershed. 
The state Department of Transportation conducts winter maintenance on nearby segments of I-93, Peabody Row, and routes 102, 28 and 128. 
Over the past decade, the town has gone through an average of 4,143 tons of rock salt each season, along with 4,262 tons of sand. 
Town-wide salt application rates are set at approximately 300 pounds per lane mile. 
Czyzowski said the new plan is designed to maintain the status quo when it comes to removing snow and ice from the town’s roads each winter but with new equipment and practices, while at the same time reducing the amount of salt applied to the roads. The plan is to reduce salt use by 5 percent next winter. 
With that in mind, the town is preparing to purchase a new six-wheel dump truck with an underbelly discharge spreader, along with spreader controls, brine tanks and sprayers, and pavement temperature sensors. 
“With all of this equipment we will be able to reduce salt usage,” Czyzowski said this week. “I believe we will be able to achieve these reductions.” 
Additionally, contractors hired by the town will be asked to attend salt-reduction training while town officials continue their public outreach. 
“I think many of us tend to spread the salt trying to melt the snow,” Czyzowski said. “But 37 percent of the salt in the watershed is from municipal routes — almost the same percent comes from private parking lots.” 
The town also plans to continue taking advantage of I-93’s state salt-reduction program, which has earmarked funds at $2.5 million. 
Londonderry’s new equipment is expected to cost $140,000, but funds from the state program would reduce the town’s cost to around $23,000, which would be paid for using capital reserve funds, Czyzowksi said. 
“The plan is to purchase this equipment over the coming summer,” he noted. “We’ll implement this plan starting next winter.” 
Town Councilor Sean O’Keefe asked if it would be possible to substitute sand for some of the salt. 
“If you don’t use it (salt), you’d have a snowy road until spring,” Czyzowski replied. “With today’s expectations, people want a black pavement in this area.” 
Councilor Paul DiMarco asked, “By reducing salt, aren’t we putting our roads in hazardous positions?” 
Czyzowski answered: “No, we do not want to jeopardize our roads. We still want to achieve the same results.” 

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