Snow plowing and applying road salt was the accepted norm from the mid-20th century until just a decade or so ago. More communities are now using new technologies and methods that are ultimately cheaper, better for the environment, and most importantly provide the level of safety the public expects during winter storm events.
Salt brine is typically a 23% salt/water mixture that can be applied to roads (anti-icing) before a storm event to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the roadway. Anti-icing makes the plowing operations more efficient, as the snow that has accumulated and been packed down can be removed easily down to the pavement. This reduces the need for road salt to be applied after the storm, and salt brine is a cheaper product than straight salt.
Pre-wetting dry road salt with salt brine also reduces the amount of straight salt that is applied to roads. A light coating of salt brine applied to road salt as it drops from the truck’s spinner will keep the salt on the road better than dry salt. Studies have found 20%-30% of dry salt will regularly bounce and scatter off the road, which means more dry salt is necessary to reach the desired safety level for traffic.
Alternative de-icing products, measuring road temperatures during storm events, monitoring snow accumulations on permeable pavements, heated surfaces, and other snow and ice removal practices may provide cost savings and reduced salt applications in the future.
The DuPage River Salt Creek Workgroup has additional resources regarding winter snow and ice removal. Check out Wisconsin DOT’s statewide 2016/17 winter snow and ice removal summary; how much salt will we use this winter?
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About the Author
Maria C. Kealey, E.I.T.
Maria brings fresh innovation coupled with effective communication skills to her role as a project engineer. She has been employed with Ruekert & Mielke, Inc. (R/M) since 2015 while she completed her degree in Civil Engineering and obtained a certificate in Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. Maria has been involved in a wide array of projects thus far, providing her with comprehensive knowledge of the industry. She understands the needs of clients to exceed expectations. These skills allow her to efficiently manage projects and coordinate design efforts, while maintaining timely communication with community staff and residents.