Winter in Maine

Winter is a total bear here in northern New England but you didn't need me to tell you that. You drive in it every year. If you're like me you've gone trick-or-treating amongst flurries and endured a springtime nor'easter. Winter is long here. Long, cold, and rough.

According to The Center Square, Mainers are averaging a 24-minute commute and for many, that means utilizing the turnpike.

With so many Mainers using the turnpike the Maine Turnpike Authority carries a huge responsibility to help keep drivers safe. One key aspect of that responsibility is the use of salt.

Closeup of car tires in winter on the road covered with snow
Getty Images

A Necessary Evil?

The Maine Turnpike Authority released an "MTA Winter Maintenance By the Numbers" graphic on Facebook which revealed the annual budget for salt alone is $1.1M.

That's a large chunk of change and just for the turnpike. News Center Maine reported that the MaineDOT trucks put down over 4,000 tons of snow per snow event.

With salting the roads so often it can be easy to forget the importance of maintenance. That is until you're trying to get your car inspected and you're told you have some serious rust problems.

Car Care

The damp snowy environment and the road salt is the perfect storm for corrosion. In fact, according to News Center Maine, experts recommend getting a car wash after every storm or routinely every 10 days throughout the winter season.

Frustrated driver next to broken car. Winter season road trip problems and assistance concept.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Environmental Concerns

In addition to eating away at vehicles, it's no surprise that road salt also has an impact on the environment.

According to an article at WGME, a 2016 study by scientists at Yale found that higher concentrations of salt can alter the sex of tadpole populations.

There is still much to be learned about the impact salt and anti-icing chemicals have on soil, lakes, and ponds.

Tough Job

While an imperfect system it's obvious that winters would be much more difficult without all the winter maintenance. There will be 77 Maine Turnpike Authority plow trucks on the turnpike during the 35-40 snow events this year as well as an average of 8 state troopers patrolling the turnpike.

So drive safe, get that car wash, and gear up for another Maine winter on the roads.

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