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Recommendations for Winter Traction Materials Management on Roadways Adjacent to Bodies of Water

Started: June, 2003 Ended: June, 2004 Project ID #425081 Status: Completed


The purpose of this project was to develop a comprehensive document for the management of winter road traction materials on Montana highways so that the impacts on the adjacent aquatic resources from such materials will be minimized.


Highway-runoff may have adverse effects on the adjacent aquatic resources if no measures are taken to remove potential contaminants before the runoff reaches the receiving water. In the State of Montana, frequent salting and sanding activities may impact nearby receiving waters by increasing sediment and contaminant loads, while sudden snowmelt and rain-on-snow events can produce large runoff volumes that may overwhelm strategies designed to minimize these impacts. This project will review existing strategies used to minimize highway-runoff impacts on aquatic resources due to winter sanding activities with special focus on techniques that are most applicable to Montana highways. The impairment of highway-runoff to water quality can be mitigated through structural or non-structural best management practices (BMPs) or through a combination of both. A wide spectrum of roadside structural BMPs, including infiltration trenches and basins, dry detention basins, constructed wetlands, wet retention ponds, vegetated swales and buffer strips, oil and grease traps, and sand filters are available to treat highway-runoff. To function efficiently and cost-effectively as mitigation measures, such facilities should be sited, designed, installed, and maintained correctly. In Montana, the cold climate may complicate the selection and performance of BMPs and present additional challenges. Non-structural BMPs, also known as preventive measures, are usually not limited by the weather or land use. If issues related to implementation can be addressed well, non-structural BMPs can be easily adopted. The project will culminate in a document providing general guidance for the management of winter traction materials developed on the basis of reviewing and synthesizing current technologies and management practices, while taking the specific needs and constraints of Montana’s affected roadways into consideration. The guidance can then be used to assist in developing portions of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) plans that require MDT’s participation


Files & Documents

Sponsors & Partners

  • Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Sponsor
  • Montana Department of Environmental Quality Partner
  • Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Partner

Part of: Winter Maintenance and Effects, Cold Climate Operations & Systems

Project Tagged In: highway run-off, Best management practices, winter mobility

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