PORTLAND, Ore. – For the first time, the Oregon Department of Transportation used salt in the Portland metro area to help keep roads dry and clear.

ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton told KGW Saturday night that salt was used on Highway 26 near Sylvan, a typical trouble spot as commuters attempt to make it up the steep hill.

"We put salt on that hill and those crews were free to go other places," said Dave Thompson of ODOT.

ODOT spread three loads of salt on Saturday, and Thompson said it worked well.

Oregon borrowed the salt from its neighbor across the river. The Washington State Department of Transportation has been using salt on roads for years. It used 2,000 tons over the weekend.

Even though ODOT used salt for the first time in the Portland area, Thompson said drivers should not assume it will be a regular and growing practice during winter storms. He said there are still questions to answer about environmental impact, and getting the answers could take years. What’s more, Oregon doesn’t have a storage area for road salt, or trucks dedicated to spreading it.

"We saw improvements," Hamilton said. "It's one of many winter tools in our arsenal."

Related: ODOT to consider salt on icy roads statewide

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