Eau Claire to use salt brine mixture to keep roads clear - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire to use salt brine mixture to keep roads clear this winter

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - For most drivers, last winter's seven feet of snow did not feel like 7th heaven. 84 inches is a lot for Eau Claire's streets to handle, and it showed. This year, the city has a game plan to fight the snow before it falls.

Much like death and taxes, snow is also a guarantee. At least it is every winter in Wisconsin. You can't escape it, but the city of Eau Claire is trying to reduce your burden behind the wheel. It starts with what's inside these storage tanks. It's a mixture called salt brine.

"It is water and salt dissolved, and what they shoot for is a 23.6% salt content in the mixture. They also add anywhere from 5 to 10 percent liquid chloride and 5 to 10 percent beet juice," explained Steve Thompson, Eau Claire Street Maintenance Manager.

This is what it does; the mix helps prevent the snow from bonding to the road and becoming ice. It was first used experimentally in small doses last winter. This year, there's a bigger plan in place.

"There are certain sections that include bridges and hills and intersections and dangerous areas that we feel we need a little more time to prevent the snow from bonding," Thompson said.

So just how soon will you see trucks spreading the solution?

"If we knew a storm was coming in say tonight at midnight, by four o'clock today we would have it treated," said Thompson.

The city has two units that can spread the salt brine across up to three lanes of traffic. And they are multipurpose vehicles.

"In the summer all this equipment can come off, and we can use these trucks for our summer operations," Thompson said.

Not only does the city consider the mixture effective, but it's also a cheaper option than salt.

"Liquid chloride can run anywhere from a dollar ten to a dollar thirty a gallon. Where as salt brine delivered here to our site is thirty cents a gallon," added Thompson.

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