Lawmakers call for protection against corrosive road chemicals - WFSB 3 Connecticut

I-TEAM INVESTIGATION

Lawmakers call for protection against corrosive road chemicals

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Mechanics in Connecticut reported last year seeing rusted cars at an alarming rate. They said it coincided with a change to how the Department of Transportation treated icy roads.

An I-Team investigation revealed that other states took steps to protect vehicles from the corrosive chemicals. Now, state lawmakers called for Connecticut to do the same.

"The change of the chemicals with what they're using, it's just eating," one mechanic told the I-Team in November. "Eating away underneath."

The I-Team went to the DOT, which said the mixture it's been putting down since 2006 has been more effective at melting ice in low temperatures. It also said they had no evidence it was more corrosive than the salt-sand mixture they once used.

"The old protocols, the old materials that we used were corrosive. We received complaints about corrosion," said Kevin Nursick of the DOT. "The new materials that we use are corrosive and we've received complaints about corrosion. We're not seeing a significant difference in corrosion with these materials versus the old protocols."

The I-Team dug deeper and found a study from Colorado that showed the salt priority that Connecticut switched to eight winters ago is more corrosive in wet conditions. We also found that states like Colorado and Maine started adding a rust inhibitor to prevent problems.

After seeing the I-Team's report, republican State Rep. Pam Sawyer of the 55th district scheduled a public hearing with the transportation committee.

"If Maine and Colorado were seriously putting in a rust inhibitor, they had done the research ahead of us," Sawyer said. "So let's find out what they know and let's find out if it's effective and let's try to bring it here to protect our bridges, to protect our vehicles, to protect our roads."

The DOT claimed the rust inhibitor was ineffective and could harm wildlife if it found its way into rivers and streams. However, it does spray a rust inhibitor on its own trucks after storms, but says it's different from what other states add to the roads.

Sawyer believed that if states with natural resources found a safe balance, so can Connecticut. Maine's DOT boasts on its website that it spends extra to add the inhibitor.

"If we are looking at a more than $21 billion budget," she said. "We can add a few dollars to make our roads safer."

The DOT said the best way to prevent rust is to wash the underside of a vehicle after every storm.

A Connecticut man said he's created a product called "The Underwasher." He claims the product, which is made in the state, may help avoid rusty brake lines. It sells for about $20.

Here's a link to the product.

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