PORTLAND, Ore. -- The surprise storm Sunday quickly covered Portland area roads and sidewalks with snow and ice.
The Oregon Department of Transportation used salt to clear the Interstate 5 and I-205 bridges across the Columbia River. An ODOT spokesman said the department was authorized to salt Highway 26, but did not.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation said conditions were not right for salt.
“When it comes to road salt, we believe it works best when going from dry conditions straight to snow. The rain we had before this freezing rain would have greatly decreased the effectiveness of the salt,” said PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera.
State transportation leaders do not require the same conditions and allowed the use of salt on both bridges Sunday.
“Salt is something that we could use whatever, whatever precipitation is on there, whether it be snow or whether it be some kind of icy conditions, salt can be used,” said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton.
While salting roads is common in some cold weather cities, Oregon banned it for years. Officials were worried about the impact on the environment.
After last winter's snowstorms the city and state said they would use salt if conditions were right.