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Salt surveillance

DOT: Cameras monitor road deicing, part of pilot program

This is one of the monitoring stations set up as part of an ongoing road salt reduction pilot program, according to the state Department of Transportation. (Enterprise photo — Jason Colby)

LAKE PLACID — Those camera towers you might’ve noticed overlooking state highways lately? They’re not monitoring your speed. They’re part of an ongoing road salt reduction pilot program, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The DOT has set up three monitoring stations, complete with solar-powered equipment and multiple cameras, in the Lake Placid and Wilmington areas. Two are located on state Route 86 and another on state Route 73, near Mountain Road.

The cameras were installed to collect data and help measure the pilot program’s effectiveness, DOT Region 1 Public Information Officer Bryan Viggiani said.

“The stations take photos and measurements of road and weather conditions before, during and after snowstorms,” he said.

The pilot program first began last winter with a 16-mile stretch on Route 86, which passes Mirror Lake in downtown Lake Placid and runs along the West Branch of the AuSable River. The program in Lake Placid was started in tandem with another program in Lake George.

A plow truck from the state Department of Transportation dumps straight salt on state Route 3, west of Tupper Lake, as snow falls on Nov. 30, 2019. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

Instead of dropping 100% road salt during snowstorms, which is the normal procedure, the DOT has been experimenting with some tree removal to allow the sun to shine directly on the road. The DOT is also using salt brine (salt water) before storms, salt mixtures and salt-sand abrasives. The DOT did a similar pilot program along the same route in the 2012-13 winter, which led to a 10% salt reduction statewide on the DOT’s part.

The AuSable River Association, a local organization known for its monitoring of the water quality of Mirror Lake, is part of the strategic working group that oversees the pilot program, according to Science and Stewardship Director Brendan Wiltse. Other organizations involved include the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the state Department of Health, the U.S. Geological Survey, and officials from the municipalities the road runs through.

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