Michigan officials using beet juice as road salt alternatives

Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:58 PM EST
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MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WILX) - As it starts to snow Friday night, driving on slippery roads is a concern for many drivers.

Mid-Michigan road officials are looking for alternatives to using salt to melt the ice and snow to clear the roads. We spoke with experts who are making choices they hope will keep both our roads and environment safe.

Driving through snow and ice can be a pain, but environmentalists are working to find ways they can reduce the impact of all that salt they spread on area roads during the winter.

“We know that our road agencies have been focused on reducing their application rates, but we also know that MDOT applied 523,000 tons of salt last year on our trunk lines,” said Christie Alwin of the Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and area road crews are working to change that. MDOT is using alternatives like beet juice to cut back on salt usage.

“Anything that we can do to reduce the amount of salt that we use or properly dispose of motor oil, make sure our storm drains are working properly that can all contribute to a more healthier ecosystem,” said LeRoy Harvey, the Meridian Township environmental programs coordinator.

Megan Tinsley of EGLE said using too salt much won’t too much good either for our infrastructure. “It also affects our infrastructure, such as bridges actually costing taxpayers quite a bit of money to rebuild and maintain things that have been corroded by salt.”

LeRoy Harvey said another thing you can do is shovel before you salt to help the ice melt faster.

When it comes to salt alternatives, MDOT uses beet juice at its garage in Delta Township. They use the juice as a de-icer on Saginaw between Rosemary and Canal.

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