Salt Routes Reduced for Winter of 2023-2024


The City of Madison Streets Division has reduced the salt routes for the upcoming winter by six percent.  Over 50 miles of roads that were previously part of the salt route network have been removed. 

In an average winter, this reduction will prevent roughly 270 tons of salt from being spread on our roads and entering our local waterways.

Salt Routes Definition

Whenever a snowstorm hits, Streets Division trucks are dispatched to plow and apply salt to the main thoroughfares, Madison Metro bus routes, roads around schools, emergency services facilities (such as hospitals) and other important connector streets.  These are the "salt routes."

The trucks continue serving salt routes for as long as the snowstorm lasts and conditions require it.

For the upcoming winter, salt routes make up approximately 778 miles of traffic lanes within the City of Madison. This accounts for roughly 43% of all the traffic lanes in Madison.

Salt Route Reduction Explanation

The negative effects on our waters and our infrastructure are well understood. 

Salt spread on our roads, parking lots, walkways, and other areas enters our storm drains that leads to our lakes, and also infiltrates into the water we drink. 

One of the main reasons why a street receives salt by Streets Division plows is whether or not it is used by Madison Metro for their bus routes. 

If a road is no longer used by Metro, then it may not need to be considered part of the salt route network. Following the redesign of the Metro bus routes, Streets Division staff reviewed all of the salt route network looking for areas where we can reduce the salt routes and prevent more salt from being spread onto the roads.

Salt Route Map for Winter of 2023-2024

Below is a PDF of the salt route network for this upcoming winter.  The red lines show the entire network of streets that are treated as salt routes by the Streets Division. 

The Streets Division is working on an interactive web version of the map that should be ready sometime this later winter season.  When the interactive version of this map is ready, we will make another announcement.

(Edit: A small error was discovered on the version of the salt route map published on November 21, 2023. One block of E. Wilson St. between S. Dickinson St. and S. Baldwin St. was mistakenly shown as not being part of the salt route network. This area is part of the salt route network. The error was fixed on November 22, 2023 and the attached map has been updated.)

Winter Service Level for Roads that are Not Salt Routes

Streets that were once part of the salt routes will now be treated like other Madison neighborhood streets. This means they will  be plowed when there is three or more inches of snow on the roads and the storm is at or near its end.  These roads will not be salted as they were before.

As a result of receiving less salt, these roads are likely to be snow covered throughout the winter much like all other lower traffic, lower speed neighborhood streets in Madison. 

Salt is the tool that removes the final layer of snow and ice from roads and creates the bare pavement drivers enjoy. 

The Streets Division will apply sand to areas that are slippery to provide traction, as is normal procedure for winter months. 

Winter Alerts and More Information for Residents

The City of Madison winter website has several resources for Madison residents to stay informed about the snow.

Snow plowing updates are shared each time plows are deployed so residents can know what to expect for from the Streets Division in response to winter events. 

Snow emergency updates are sent out each time a snow emergency is declared, which is very useful if you utilize street parking within the Snow Emergency Zone.

You can sign up to receive text messages regarding snow emergencies and also nightly reminders for alternate side parking.

There is information about where residents can pick up free sand to use on their sidewalks and driveways. 

And there is information about winter recreation opportunities and even more.

The City of Madison Winter website is



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