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Look for safer travels, less salt on the roads next winter thanks to new device that saves salt and money

Screenshot 2016-03-16 10.07.03

Winter may be in the rearview mirror, but that doesn’t mean ways to make the season and Michigan roads more manageable are out of mind.

Two maintenance mechanics from the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Paw Paw repair facility came up with “calibrated salt-door stops” to help with salt distribution on Michigan’s slick winter roads.

The salt-door stop, created by engineers Jordan Claus and Ryan Piasecki of the Paw Paw repair facility in Southwest Michigan, is a stainless steel bar installed on MDOT salt hopper trucks to help regulate the flow of salt. It is attached to the moveable gate on the trucks and sets a calibrated height for salt to fall to the roads.

While these additions to the salt hoppers cost $22 each, they save more than that by not wasting salt while deicing. This new method beats the old way of simple “line of sight.”

“Traditionally, our plow operators have relied on their lines of sight to set the salt doors, resulting in varying door heights and salt use from one operator to the next,” says Janine Cooper, MDOT Southwest Region engineer of operations. “These salt-door stops will eliminate the varying heights of salt doors and allow each operator to simply lower the door to a predetermined and calibrated height, resulting in reducing salt use and saving money.”

In addition to the potential thousands saved each winter, the predetermined setting can make the roads safer and help prevent some wear-and-tear on your vehicles heavy salt causes. Less salt is also better for the environment.

The new salt-door stops have been used on the MDOT’s I, M, and US roads (interstate, mainline and US highways respectively), better known as the state truck line.

So far 80 plows have been fitted with new equipment. MDOT hopes to get it on all snowplows next winter.

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