Winter Tools and Terms
Anti‐icing: The application of salt brine to the road surface prior to winter storms. The solution lowers the freezing point of water and slows or prevents ice from forming a bond with the pavement during the early stages of a storm.
Anti‐skid: Crushed limestone is used as an antiskid material in addition to salt. The percentage of antiskid varies by road type.
De‐icing: The application of salt or salt brine to the roadway after snow or ice accumulation.
Ground speed‐activated salt spreader: PennDOT trucks are equipped with an electronic material application system that automatically dispenses the desired amount of material. These systems ensure that the material is applied at a constant rate whether the truck is going 15 mph or 45 mph.
Infrared temperature sensors: Sensors are mounted on vehicles in the PennDOT fleet to provide the operator with the exact pavement temperature. This helps the operator determine if there is a potential for the roadway to freeze and when to start the treatment cycle.
Pre‐wetted salt: Road salt is sprayed with salt brine to enhance the salt's melting capability in cold weather. Prewetting lowers the melting point of salt to make it more effective in lower temperatures.
Salt brine: Salt brine is essentially saltwater produced at 65 PennDOT facilities around the state. This material is used in anti-icing operations and to prewet
Salt: Salt remains the department's primary weapon for fighting winter storms. PennDOT, which has 450 stockpiles around the state, has used an average of nearly 844,000 tons of salt over the last five winters.
Single, tandem, and tri‐axle trucks: Over the past several years, PennDOT has been replacing its single-axle trucks, which are capable of hauling 8 tons of material, with larger and more powerful tandem-axle trucks, which are capable of hauling 16 tons. Tri-axle trucks can haul up to 22 tons.
Wing plow: When mounted on both sides of a truck, can allow a truck to clear almost an extra 8 to 9 feet of lane width in addition to the 11 feet or so already cleared by the main plow.
Tow plow: Towed by a plow truck and when combined with a front plow, the combination will clear a width of 25 feet or two full lanes.
Municipal agreements: Agreements in place for municipalities to clear state roads in their jurisdiction.