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SG-W:/ State of Michigan salt use study


On Thursday of last week Senator William VanRegenmorter, 22nd District, 
introduced Senate Bill 271calling for studies of the environmental impact of 
salt and certain replacements.  The act, if approved, would be known as the 
"environmental road safety act".

How does this relate to sprawl and land use?   Transportation infrastructure, 
probably one of  the greatest source of environmental problems nationally, has 
a direct cause/effect relationship with sprawl and the problems it creates.   
I suppose I should say it is our "car culture" that is more directly 
responsible but I, like most,  like my individual mobility and realize the 
blasphamy of even thinking that in this state.  That is not to say however 
that we can not learn to manage this freedom more responsibly until we develop 
better alternatives.   The day may come when people will look with contempt at 
those individuals whose vehicles are puking out excessive emissions in a 
similar way when being accosted by second hand cigarette smoke.  I  hope the 
day will come when people will become angry when they see too much salt 
applied to roadways. 

We all must learn to think about the impacts of our expectations.   I hear the 
radio news media on snowy days speak of the salt trucks and salt like it was 
the cavalry coming to save the day.   These practices are being driven by 
unsustainable expectations.  Is it a reasonable expectation to be able to 
drive 80 miles per hour, 24 hours, 365 day per year?  If we had to slow down 
every now and then until roadways were made safe, without plastering them 
salt, I suspect somehow we'd all make it.  Ironically, folks don't think about 
being slowed down when they are stuck in a traffic jam in July because of  
salt induced bridge repairs costing millions of dollars.  Are people making 
the salt connection when they are searching for a  parking space because their 
favorite parking structure or lot is being renovated, torn down, or rebuilt?  
People that advocate salt use never want to mention these issues.  They also 
forget that all that salt has to go somewhere and that means it ends up in 
lakes and wetlands where it may be seriously impacting these habitats, or in 
soils where it damages plants ability to do what they do for us, or is in our 
air where we and other living things breath it.  

This morning, March 5, 2001, as I drove east bound on M-14 around Ann Arbor I 
was saddened by how much salt there was on the roads and in the rising dust 
clouds.  I wondered, had it snowed or had it salted?  It had done both; it 
seemed somewhere around a quarter of an inch.

I urge you to write your state legislators to support this important piece of 
legislation.  We can do it better. 

Hope this is in the spirit of this list serve.

Mark Cornwell
Holly Township, Planning Commissioner
Oakland County

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