For the past few days, we’ve been getting questions from Maryland drivers about those narrow white lines they’ve seen on the state’s highways. They’re the remnant of the salt brine treatment that the Maryland State Highway Administration uses in advance of a winter storm.
The state has been using the treatment for three years, but this latest example drew more inquiries than normal.
“They looked like lines for a squirrel race,” said David Buck, a spokesman for the highway administration. He’s been getting some questions about them, too.
It may be that by the time commuters returned to the state’s highways on Monday, no one remembered the point a few days before when the weather forecast included the potential for one to four inches of snow in parts of Maryland.
All the highway departments in the D.C. region are more aggressive than they used to be about treating the roads ahead of a storm, and that’s a good thing for drivers.
Buck said SHA has to make its call to deploy crews about 36 hours ahead of the forecasted storm. The crews need to avoid a deployment during peak travel periods. Plus, they have 17,000 miles of lanes to cover.
The brine treatment, which retards bonding between the pavement and the ice, is good for about 72 hours, so there’s no problem putting it down well ahead of a storm’s predicted arrival.
For most Marylanders, this particular storm didn’t arrive. And for the next few days, there wasn’t much rain to wash it away. On the contrary, we enjoyed some warm sunshine. So lots of drivers got a chance to see the white streaks left in the middle of the lanes by the treatment trucks.