Eau Claire County (WQOW)- The large number of crashes around the Chippewa Valley didn't seem to match the amount of snow that fell. The Eau Claire County Highway Department answers why.
County officials said Thursday it comes down to the cold weather, it's just too cold for the salt to properly keep the roads dry. The highway department said when the temperature is as low as it is, the salt loses 90 percent of its effectiveness. To put that in perspective, the department said for every dollar of salt crews use, 90 cents of it goes to waste in this weather.
There are some alternative chemicals that can be used to activate the salt, but the department said it does come at a cost, both out of pocket and to vehicles. Part of the challenge is how many drivers are using the roads around Eau Claire County compared with more rural areas.
"As you go to the north or any other areas, even in to Chippewa County, there's less. We have 40,000 vehicles out there on the bypass right now per day, and that traffic heats up the snow and causes that ice, that black ice that you've heard about. So in our condition with all that traffic volume we end up having to go back and treat that, and in these temperatures salt wears off, refreezes over and over again," said Eau Claire County Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson.
For the rest of the night the department said if it stops snowing crews can treat the roads. If it stays slick, crews will be out late in to the night and in to Friday doing whatever they can to get everyone home safe.
The highway department is asking everyone to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.