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The City of Duluth is Testing a New Brine Solution on Northland Icy Roads

snow plow
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

We all complained about our Northland roads.  Oh sure, the snow was taken care of but the ice that was under that snow is thick, rough and impossible to remove with our usual means.  The City of Duluth heard our voices are tackling the situation with a new brine solution.

Maintenance crews tried a variety of methods to remove the caked ice from last week’s historic snow storm to no avail. Today, they are making some progress using a new brine solution.

The solution consists of calcium chloride mixed with a brine solution and has shown some promise despite our continued frigid temps.  Though the City does not stock calcium chloride, it was able to get a hold of a limited quantity. City crews have been out today taking advantage of the warm sun to test the mix. The results are good so far and even better with the combination of sunshine, constant traffic that breaks up the ice and heats the pavement and immediate follow up with graders and plows.

It’s rather expensive, calcium chloride costs $800 per ton versus salt at $64 a ton, so it’s cost prohibitive to be used on our city’s 400 miles of roads. Other considerations is that Chloride is a product that works best with sunshine but then refreezes once the sun goes down, so they have to work fast.

City crews have been out testing the solution judiciously on the worse ice caked streets and hilly avenues. Of course, the City is continuing to use sand where necessary and is making good progress but there is more ground to cover.  Hopefully the rising temperatures will enable crews to restart with a salt/sand mixture soon.  Until then, we’re lucky that there is an alternative that may help give Northlanders a smoother ride to their destinations.

The City continues to enforce alternate side parking and buried vehicles prevent city crews from finishing plow operations. Motorists are again urged to drive cautiously and be patient.   Clearing city sidewalks and hauling away snow banks are also a priority for the City in the coming weeks.

Ken and Cathy Speak with Snowplow Operator Pat H.

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