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Adirondack group calls for release of road salt study

Courtesy of Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Road salt

An Adirondack advocacy group is urging Governor Kathy Hochul to get a report on road salt use issued. A number of groups have been awaiting the report, which was expected to be released last year.

A provision of the Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act, signed in 2020, created a task force to provide recommendations for reduction and alternatives to the use of road salt in winter. The task force disbanded in late 2022 but its report has yet to be released.

On Tuesday Protect the Adirondacks sent a letter to Governor Kathy Hochulurging her to “demand that the ...report is finalized and released as soon as possible.” Protect Executive Director Peter Bauer:

“It seems that we’re going to head into another winter without any type of plan, without any type of blueprint, for how it is that we’re going to mitigate and reduce the use of road salt in the Adirondacks and stop road salt pollution to many of our major lakes and ponds.”

Road salt reduction is a priority of A-D-K Action. Twenty-six municipalities in the Adirondack Park have signed an agreement with the group pledging to reduce salt use. Project Coordinator Hannah Grall says the report is important to provide guidelines and be in alignment with state initiatives.

“Most municipalities that we are working with have been eager to jump on board with this initiative. Not only for the environmental impacts of road salt reduction but also they’ve seen the impacts that road salt has to drinking water, and infrastructure and its way more cost efficient for them to be tracking and reducing the amount of road salt that they are using, the amount of sand that they are using in switching to more efficient techniques.”

The Road Salt Reduction Act, which created Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force, was sponsored by Democrat D. Billy Jones of the 115th state Assembly district. He says under the law the report should have been released last year.

“This is getting to the point of beyond ridiculous because the task force has done their work. They have all the information. We have sent emails to DOT. We have sent letters. We have called. This is needed and I’m just frustrated that this report isn’t out. Many groups and organizations, local governments, are frustrated that it’s not out as well.”

Bauer blames the leadership at the Department of Transportation for the delay.

“The Commissioner of the Department of Transportation, what we hear, is not warm to the report, is not very interested in making some of the significant changes that need to be done. We need reforms in our practices so that we can move towards ecologic recovery.”

In an emailed statement, New York state DOT spokesperson Joe Morrissey said “contrary to assertions being made, no one is holding up the process to release the report of the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force. The report is being finalized and we expect it to be released very soon.”

Again, Assemblyman Jones:

“We’ve heard these exact words said before from spokespeople there. This report should be out already. Just put it out. It’s an important issue here in the Adirondacks, throughout the North Country, throughout New York state. We need this report out.”

WAMC has requested comment from Governor Hochul’s office.

According to A-D-K Action more than 190,000 tons of road salt are used on Adirondack roads annually with the state applying two-and-a-half times more per mile than county and municipal road crews.