Street Division Improves Safety and Reduces Costs

Division Applauds New Anti-Icing Method

With public safety as priority, Marshfield Street Division is continually improving how streets are treated during (and even before) a snow event takes place.

“When we look at something for snow removal, we’re looking at providing safer traveling for the general public. That’s our ultimate goal,” said Mike Winch, Street Superintendent.

For about eight years, the division relied on pre-wetting, a method that involves applying salt brine, beet juice, and chemicals to the salt. (The beet juice helps counteract the corrosiveness of salt, providing a sticking effect on pavement to hold the solution in place.)

This “pre-wetting” helps activate the melting function of salt, allows it to work at lower temperatures, reduces bounce, and ultimately saves salt usage. A top-down process, pre-wetting is done after snowfall has begun.

In an effort to improve response times and to help better avoid snow problems, in the past year the division has implemented a new system called “anti-icing.”

“The County has been doing this for years in higher traffic areas, such as in traffic intersections and on bridges- places more likely to have accidents,” said Bornbach, adding that the County doesn’t do all of the road because of higher traffic and increased speeds that help dissipate the snowfall.

Even though the same basic chemicals and components are used, anti-icing and pre-wetting are completely different methods.

Anti-icing is when an 85% salt brine and 15% beet mix solution is applied before a storm begins, preventing bond formation between ice/snow and the road. Anti-icing has been making a significant impact on response times to snow and ice storms.

“The biggest benefit is you get that salt underneath, and when it starts snowing, it forms a brine and it keeps the snow from binding to the pavement (if there is a lot of snow),” explained Kurt Bornbach, Assistant Street Superintendent. “If there is not a lot of snow, it can even melt it.”

“The more we experiment with it the more I’ve seen the benefits of it,” added Winch.

With 321.2 lane miles in the City of Marshfield, the division is currently anti-icing about 90 lane miles, including major thoroughfares such as Central Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, Oak Avenue, Peach Avenue, and 29th Street, which account for upwards of 60% of day traffic.

“You’re looking at at least half the traffic in town or better on the anti-iced streets,” said Winch.

Along with making roads safer, there are cost savings to the new anti-icing method, a result of less salt usage and reduced need for overtime.

For example, the division anti-iced on a Friday before a snowstorm started. After the snowfall, one worker was called in to conduct spot de-icing. Without anti-icing, the division would have needed approximately six overtime workers to help clear the roads.

“The goal is to be proactive, not reactive,” said Bornbach.

The division utilizes the DTN weather service to determine whether anti-icing is needed, and communicate regularly with the Marshfield Police Department to help determine snow emergencies and keep the public safe.

“We’re doing the best we can with the technology we have,” said Winch. “We make a judgement call as to when we go out there. When you’ve watched it for 30 years, you learn stuff.”

With every snow event, the division keeps careful records to better analyze cost and potential cost savings.

Currently beet juice is purchased through Kafka Granite and mixed on-site with salt brine purchased from Wood County. Before the end of the month, the division will be making its own salt brine to further help reduce costs.

The division is currently outfitting additional vehicles to help service heavier walkways and cross traffic intersections in the City.

Summary and Additional Information:

Anti-Icing is Proactive
-Application of deciding chemicals prior to storm
-Prevents bonding of snow and ice to pavement
-Reduces the freeze point of water

Pre-Wetting (De-Icing) is Reactive
-Application of de-icing chemical during/after the storm
-Bonding of snow and ice to the pavement
-Increased use of resources
-Use 4 times more material to de-ice

Benefits of Liquid Anti-icers
-Reduced bonding of snow and ice
-Environmentally friendly compared to sand
-Less material cleanup
-Cost effective
-Reduced chemical usage
-Allows users to get ahead of the storm

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