North Country Representatives Pass Road Salt Task Force Legislation on To the Governor

July 23, 2020

The Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act (S.8663/A8767) has now passed in both the Assembly and the Senate. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay Lake) and Assemblyman Dan Stec (R,C,I-Queensbury), was passed unanimously by the Assembly on Monday, July 20, 2020. The Senate passed the bill yesterday with only one member voting in the negative. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Timothy Kennedy (D-Buffalo) and Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury).

The bill would establish the Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force, a pilot program to help protect the environment while ensuring safe road conditions. It’s important to ensure safe travel conditions during the winter, but the pollution stemming from the excessive road salt use on public roads presents a risk to both the environment and public health. Road salt can leech into surface and ground water, releasing heavy metals and other toxins into the environment and drinking water supply that threaten the health and safety of North Country families.

"When it comes to keeping our lakes, rivers, streams and water wells clean, the old adage of an ‘ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure’ certainly fits,” said Little. "The good news, as we’ve seen in municipalities such as Lake George, where there has been a tremendous focus on this issue, is that newer equipment and utilizing technology is helping our local highway departments do their incredibly important work of keeping our roadways safe while cutting back on road salt usage. My hope is that we can do the same throughout the Park. A comprehensive study, including a pilot program, would give us the data we need to develop best practices.”

“While safety always remains our top priority for residents during the winter months, it is incumbent upon us to find ways to protect drivers without harming the environment and polluting our drinking water,” said Jones. “This effort was spearheaded by the late Randy Preston and upon speaking with his wife, Michelle, she was elated that his legacy will be carried on. This legislation is a crucial step in providing protection for our natural water sources while also keeping the roads safe for travel during the winter. I’d like to thank my colleagues for supporting this measure and encourage the governor to do the same.”

“It's imperative that we strike a balance of providing safety to our residents while addressing the ecological health of our waterways,” said Stec. “A proactive environmental strategy which also addresses the need for safe passable highways is long overdue in the Adirondacks. This proposed Pilot Program will supply us with the data needed to proceed toward a favorable outcome. I am proud to be a sponsor of this legislation and I am pleased that this bill has passed both houses and will be delivered to the Governor.”

The Adirondack Road Salt Reduction Task Force will gather and summarize available information and recommend best management practices for winter road maintenance in the Adirondacks. This includes recommendations for updated levels of service and road salt reduction targets to help the state Departments of Transportation, Health and Environmental Conservation reduce the level of water contamination while maintaining road safety.