Columbus, Ohio is among the latest cities to start using tinted road salt to help residents identify when and where their streets have been treated after winter storms. According to local news reports, the bright blue coloring comes from a non-toxic product called Liquitint. Representatives from North Linden, the neighborhood that Columbus is using to test the application, hopes the more visible salt will help improve residents' satisfaction with the work their road crews are doing on residential and collector streets.
Tinted road salt isn't a new phenomenon. The Batimore Sun reported easy-to-see road treatments in that city as far back as 2004. More recently, in 2013, West Boylston, Mass., and cities in the Cleveland area have started using green-tinted road salt that does more than highlight treated roads. Both cities used Cargill's ClearLane salt, which is treated to stick better to road surfaces and work more effectively at lower temperatures. Not coincidentally, it's also "green" for its eco-friendliness.
Whether it's treated for visibility or efficacy, enhanced road salt doesn't come free. Tinting and other additives can add upwards of $10 to the cost of a ton of salt. Cities that opt for the treatments say they're looking for fewer crew call-backs for additional treatments, and a reduction in the use of mix-in abrasives like sand to help off-set the costs. Additionally, reports say Liquitint won't stain pavement, and ClearLane is designed to be less corrosive than other salts, so using the enhanced salt shouldn't enhance road repair budgets down the line.
Does your municipality use tinted road salt? Share your experiences in the comments.