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Storm Preps: The Science of Treating Roads

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Another round of snow is here and Sunday road crews were out pre-treating the roads in preparation for the snow.

The snow came last night and will start up again later today, but road crews were already prepared.  By using a brine solution and spraying it onto the roadways before the snow starts, it improves snow melt times and helps prevent most ice formation.

Jed Falgren DIistrict Maintenance Engineer says, "It makes it easier for us to remove the snow and ice more quickly; get the roads back into better driving conditions faster."

The solution is handled all by computer, not by manually stirring cattle tanks and is very accurate.  23% of the solution is salt, the rest is water.  The computer is able to control the amount of salt and water to get it to the exact amount needed, cutting down on time and waste.

When temperatures are too cold, calcium chloride is added to make it more effective.

The system can produce 5,000 gallons an hour.  The MNDOT facility in Mankato can store over 50,000 gallons of the brine at a time where they are stored in large drums.

Randy Glaser, Transportation Operations Supervisor One, said, "Very nice, it's state of the art and we were one of the first ones to have a system like this."

The brine is used by MnDOT and other local municipalities.  Once the brine is ready, up to two trucks at a time can be filled up at a rate of 100 gallons a minute.

While the brine is very helpful, it is not used when conditions are very windy or during extreme cold.  "The key thing to remember is that the brine helps us prevent the ice from sticking or at least improve our ability to take it off, but it does not eliminate slippery roads" says Falgren.

Drivers are still urged to use caution.  Trucks will continue to be out tonight and then will resume very early tomorrow morning.