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CLEAN-ROADS: Addressing the environmental impact of salt use on the roads

European Union
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The excessive use of chemical de-icers for winter road maintenance can lead to severe environmental damage and jeopardise the protection of natural ecosystems close to busy roads. Several studies have demonstrated already that road salt has a negative impact on the surrounding environment – with short- and long-term damage to aquatic systems, vegetation, air quality, wildlife and human health – and also to the road infrastructure and vehicles. Today, the salting of roads in wintertime is carried out in a subjective manner, without the use of quantitative data. This can lead to an overestimation of the amount of salt required and thus a waste of resources. The target area (Bolzano province, northern Italy) was selected as particularly suitable because of its high chemical usage (mainly of salt - sodium chloride) for de-icing of roads in wintertime. Since there is heavy traffic on major routes in this frontier region, even at night, the decision whether to salt or not can be difficult to make: and the overestimation of quantities of salt also impacts on road safety levels. There is therefore a need to improve the efficiency in the way de-icing chemicals (in particular salt) are used in winter road maintenance – both to reduce the negative impact on soil, vegetation, air and water and also the impact on roads and vehicles.


The overall objective of the 'CLEAN-ROADS' project is to reduce the environmental problems related to the widespread use of de-icing/anti ice chemicals (mainly salt) for the winter road maintenance in Bolzano. Specific project objectives include:

  • Quantifying at a local level, the negative environmental impact of the use of de-icing salt on the roads and surrounding natural ecosystems;
  • Providing for more efficient use of salt during winter road maintenance operations through the introduction of a pilot low energy road weather information system (RWIS), enabling real-time data of road conditions and also the implementation of short-term weather forecasts;
  • Informing drivers locally, by disseminating road-weather information through ‘info-mobility’ channels;
  • Implementing dedicated awareness-raising actions aimed at increasing the level of responsibility of drivers for organising and planning their trips in wintertime.

Expected results - The main quantified expected results include:

  • A 30% reduction in road salt use in the project area;
  • A 10-20% reduction in chloride concentrations in the local ecosystem, specifically in the nearby aquatic systems;
  • A 15-30% reduction in the number of road salting treatments required for each stretch of road;
  • A 15-30% decrease in the total number of kilometres travelled by winter road maintenance vehicles;
  • A 10-20% reduction in air pollutant levels;
  • A 20-30% reduction in the number of traffic accidents;
  • A 15-20% reduction in average travel times; and
  • A 5-10% reduction in traffic volumes and a 30-40% decrease in traffic congestion caused by bad weather.



Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Union
Type of funding
Public (EU)


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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