City Using New Substance to Treat Roads this Winter

By: Bailey Disselkoen Email
By: Bailey Disselkoen Email

December 7, 2011

Charlottesville Public Works is ready for snow. This winter the organization will be treating city roads almost exclusively with brine instead of salt.

Brine is a combination of salt and water. In past years, Public Works would salt the roads and wait for it to combine with precipitation to form brine. But thanks to their new toy, a brine maker, Public Works will be making brine and laying it directly on roads this year.

Public Works will double the amount of brine it uses, in turn reducing salt usage by 75 percent. And at $97 a ton, cutting salt from its road treatment diet should save the city thousands of dollars. Officials say it's also easier to pre-treat roads with brine than with salt.

"You can put brine down up to 48 hours in advance and it will stick. So instead of bringing people in at night and putting salt down right before the storm starts, we can now do it during regular hours," said Public Service Manager Steve Lawson.

Public Works used brine during a pilot program last year and was so impressed with it that they decided to make the switch permanent. With the new brine distribution trucks, Lawson says Public Works can pre-treat every street in Charlottesville in just eight hours.

The only major difference drivers will encounter is how the road looks. Salt is sometimes hard to see, but the brine will likely create streaks in the road. Plus, less salt on the roads means less harm to your car.

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