A new bill in the Michigan Senate would create a pilot program to test the use of agricultural additives, such as sugarbeet byproducts, to prevent icing and optimize de-icing of roads.
Sen. Roger Victory’s legislation, SB 379, was finalized by the state Senate and is on its way to the governor.
Each year, about 20 million tons of salt are used to mitigate icy road conditions across the U.S. Using sugarbeet juice and other agricultural additives to improve the ability of the salt to stick to the pavement is expected to decrease the amount reaching water sources and limit how much salt is required to be effective at managing icy conditions.
“Although salt works well to reduce ice on winter roads, it also corrodes roads and vehicles, blows away in extreme weather and harms Michigan’s farms and freshwater ecosystems,” says Victory, R-Hudsonville. “Sugarbeets may offer an alternative to salt-only de-icing that could help improve winter road conditions and better protect our environment and vehicles — while also saving taxpayer dollars.
“Since Michigan is one of the top states in growing sugarbeets, we could also help support family farmers throughout our state.”
Victory says that the city of Novi has used beet juice on its roads since 2009. Novi Director of Public Works Jeff Herczeg recently told WXYZ-TV 7, “The biggest benefit for us is the reduction in salt costs and efficiency for our operators. We see about a 35% savings in salt alone, and then the liquids also do make the operation more efficient, which cuts down on labor.”
By June 30, 2025, the Michigan Department of Transportation would need to submit a report on the pilot program to both legislative transportation committees summarizing the program activities, its results at that point and steps for increasing statewide use of agricultural additives.