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The Antelope

The Antelope

The Antelope

Slick roads, sidewalks cause difficulty for students

antelope issue 2 spring


Icy sidewalks, parking lots and roads command UNK’s campus in the winter. Nebraska weather is relentless, and we have become accustomed to this, but our inability to counteract let alone prevent these extremes is something we have not. Without salted passageways, our ventures to class, work or even our contemporary homes are made difficult or impossible by ice.  

The easy answer to this dilemma: road salt. Still, we haven’t seen very much of it this season. Significant buzz across campus and the entire community has left us wondering – where did the salt go? Isn’t safe passage worth a little extra wear and tear on our vehicles?

In the U.S., we have a proclivity for using salt as our deicer – it is cheap and gets the job done. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, allowing ice to melt more quickly and prolonging another freeze. 

Despite its popular use, we have found this question being asked again and again as of late – why aren’t our sidewalks salted? This question hangs especially heavy since campus custodians and grounds staff do such an exceptional job of keeping our campus both clean and safe. Similarly, snow is often cleared within a day – so why not ice?

This is something we don’t have an answer to yet. However, we do have our conjecture.

The truth about road salt is that it seeps through concrete and into underground water – of which Nebraska has a lot of. It is made up of mostly sodium and chloride and is known to contaminate aquifers, wells, wildlife and drinking water, even becoming harmful to the environment and to the health of plants, wildlife and people. Despite this “public” knowledge, road salt has been used continuously due to its efficiency and cost. 

There have been many national attempts at exchanging this solution for another. Northeastern states have especially struggled with this and looked to new answers due to already high levels of chloride in their soil and underground. States such as New Hampshire have even looked towards mandating snow tires for all public transportation, and even to the entire public.

Thankfully, we haven’t had to consider or look to such extremes just yet.

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