From City of Madison:
Streets Division will apply salt to all residential streets in Madison on Monday, February 11, 2019. This is likely the first time that all Madison streets have been directly salted since the salt route policy was instituted in the1970s.
This extraordinary action is necessary due to the persistent layer of ice on many streets and the likelihood of a major winter storm arriving Monday evening. Many roads in Madison remain very slippery and challenging for all roadway users. Plus, on ice packed streets, plowing equipment would be unable to gain sufficient traction push the anticipated heavy snow from the road.
The unprecedented decision to salt each street in Madison was made after it became apparent that sand/salt mixture previously spread on residential streets was not effective in breaking through the ice layer on the roads. The sand used by the Streets Division is mixed with a small amount of salt, primarily because the sand is stored outdoors and the salt is necessary to keep the sand pile from freezing solid. It was the hope that the salt within the sand would melt the ice, but that did not occur.
Neighborhood salting crews will apply less salt than on a typical salt route. Crews will be applying 200 pounds of salt per lane mile as opposed to the usual 300 pounds per lane mile. Crews will also only apply salt to the centers of each neighborhood street.
The neighborhood salt application began Monday morning and will be complete prior to the start of the winter storm Monday night. This should provide sufficient time for the salt application to work before the probable citywide plowing operation begins on Tuesday.
Salting each street in Madison is a singular decision in response to unique weather conditions. The Streets Division will not continue to salt each street in Madison in response more normal winter conditions.
With road conditions as they are, and the major winter storm coming, and considering the safety of all roadway users and plow vehicles, the decision to salt each street was made.