By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –– Salt, it’s everywhere you look these days, on the roads and on the sidewalks. Officials say it’s a necessary evil, as crews work to keep snowy roads open.

It’s a matter of priorities. While transportation officials weigh public safety against environmental concerns from salt runoff, keeping the roads safe and passable is paramount, says Steve Schapiro, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

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“Our primary responsibility in the winter of course is ensuring public safety by keeping those interstate highways and the state highways clear of snow and ice,” he said.

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Schapiro says spreading a calcium chloride brine on roads first, allows crews to use less rock salt after the snow falls. Even so, having all of that leftover salt on the road surfaces now, prepares them for the next snowfall.

“Having some residual salt on the roads gives us a head start,” he said.

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For a nor’easter that could arrive Thursday.