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Snow & Ice Removal

What is a snow and ice removal program?

Photo of truck spraying liquid de-icer on roadway
Truck applies chemical anti-icer to roadway to prevent frost and ice from forming.

Anti-icing is applying chemicals to roadways to prevent frost and ice. De-icer helps break the bond to keep it from compacting and bonding onto the highway.

Increasing demands on mobility and environmental protection have resulted in less reliance on abrasives, such as sand, and increased use of anti-icers.

How do these chemicals help prevent snow and ice build-up?

Liquid anti-icers are generally applied to the roadway before weather events occur, and prevent ice crystals from bonding to the pavement. We use different chemical anti-icers depending on temperature and humidity.

Solid de-icing chemicals look like sand and are used to keep accumulating snow loose and “plowable” so it can be removed with snowplows. If snow and ice become compact and bonded to a paved surface, the solid chemical de-icers can absorb into the compact snow or ice, melt it and break it up for snowplow removal.

Is it harmful to the environment or my car?

WSDOT thoroughly trains all maintenance work force plus uses the latest technology and equipment. Each winter season, we conduct roadside soil, surface water, or groundwater monitoring at highway system locations. This ongoing effort ranges from academic research projects to less formal “before and after” water sampling and testing.

Most vehicles are made with a protective under coating that helps the vehicle resist damage and corrosion. WSDOT continues to strongly recommend drivers who drive on roads treated with anti-icer wash their vehicles to prevent build-up.