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Wilton Selectman Backs Bill To Cut Use Of De-Icers On State Roads

Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan submitted testimony in favor of a state-wide bill to study the corrosive effects chemical road treatments have on vehicles, Photo Credit: File
Wilton officials believe road treatment chemicals used by the state DOT are having negative effects on the town's fleet of public safety vehicles. Photo Credit: Contributed

WILTON, Conn. — Wilton First Selectman Bill Brennan is urging state legislators to approve a bill that would require the state Department of Transportation to study the corrosive effects that chemical de-icers have on vehicles, roadways and the environment.

In a letter submitted to the legislature’s Transportation Committee in support of the bill, Brennan said chemicals used by the state DOT to melt ice and snow on the roads are damaging his town’s fleet of public safety vehicles, resulting in increased maintenance and replacement costs.

“Accelerated corrosion is requiring earlier replacement of undercarriage parts and systems, and shortening the life of these costly and critical safety vehicles," Brennan wrote.

Along with his testimony, Brennan submitted a copy of a letter he received from Ralph Nathanson, apparatus supervisor for the Wilton Fire Department, documenting what he believes to be problems caused by road treatment chemicals.

“As apparatus supervisor for the Wilton Fire Department for 34 years, I have not seen the severity of rust and corrosion to our fleet of public safety vehicles as I have in the past five to seven years,” Nathanson wrote in his letter to Brennan.

Over the years, the state DOT has changed the way it de-ices state roadways, Nathanson said in his letter. The original salt/sand mix used was replaced by calcium chloride, which was subsequently replaced by the current magnesium/salt mix— which Nathanson said is the “perfect recipe for corrosion.”

“Towns and cities will be replacing fire apparatus more frequently due to the products used to de-ice Connecticut roadways,” wrote Nathanson. “The only opportunity to impact this situation would be to change the products used to de-ice our roads to something that is less or non-corrosive.”

Brennan is one of many officials who submitted testimony in favor of Bill 5288, An Act Concerning Chemical Road Treatments, which was reviewed Friday by the legislature’s Transportation Committee during a public hearing.

If passed, the bill would also require the DOT to evaluate alternative road treatment techniques and products— including the addition of rust inhibitors to current treatments— and a comparison of costs and effectiveness.

During Friday’s hearing, Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said the DOT is willing to review the effectiveness of adding rust inhibitors to the road treatment chemicals, according to an article in the Stamford Advocate

"Everyone in the state has used more salt this year, probably [more] than ever in the past," DOT spokesman Kevin Nursick said in the Hartford Courant. "We've had more storms which require a storm response using salt, so over the course of this winter we have used more than average. It's been an abnormal winter."

The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut also supports a ban on the ice-melting chemicals, saying it's too corrosive on vehicles.

To read the full text of Brennan's and Nathanson's letters, click here.

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