Staff proposes replacing sand-salt with ice slicer

Posted 7/8/10

Englewood Public Works proposed using a new tool in the cold-weather battle to provide traction when roads become icy. Rick Kahm, public works …

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Staff proposes replacing sand-salt with ice slicer


Englewood Public Works proposed using a new tool in the cold-weather battle to provide traction when roads become icy.

Rick Kahm, public works director, presented the proposal at the July 6 city council study session to abandon the decades old system of putting down a salt-sand mixture in favor of a newer deicing technology

He added that, if the council agrees to the plan, he would come back with a request for money to buy the equipment needed to put the system in use this winter.

Kahm explained the city has used a salt-sand mixture on the streets since the 1950s but new technology makes this the time to consider a change.

He said an analysis of available technology, including research by the American Public Works Association indicates the use of a material called ice slicer would be more effective in providing traction for drivers traveling on icy roads and the material would be more environmentally friendly than the current sale-sand mixture.

The report states the tests show the ice slicer is effective and melts snow and ice until the temperature falls between zero and minus five. The data also reports the ice slicer is 70 percent less corrosive than the rock salt currently used. The switch would reduce corrosion and thus maintenance of equipment, vehicles using the roads and the road surface.

“We’ve always knows the salt-sand mixture has limitations,” Kahm said as he explained the proposal. “For one thing, it only works until the temperature falls below about 17 degrees. Also, after we spread an average of about 200 tons of salt-sand on the roads, the clean air rules require we sweep up and pick up what we put down.”

In the report he presented to the council for the presentation stated ice slicer is a natural product mined in Utah and can be stored locally so it will be available when needed.

The proposal also is to combine the ice slicer with a solution called magnesium chloride to make the de-icing process more effective.

The information presented stated magnesium chloride wets the street which assists the ice slicer better adhere to the road surface. Wetting the surface means there is less splatter when the ice slicer is applied so the material begins the melting action immediately.

Kahm noted the switch to ice-slicer would also better use of the personnel in the streets department.

He said that is because following a typical snow storm, 64 staff hours are needed for two sweepers, a truck and six employees to sweep up and remove the salt-sand mixture.

He said, according to the data, the ice slicer has a natural grittiness eliminating the need to use the salt-sand mixture to provide traction. Also, since less is used, it reduces the amount of hours needed to sweep up and pick up the material after a storm.

The change-over requires purchase of equipment to apply the magnesium chloride, modifying a 1,500 gallon water tank and installation of a storage tank for the deicer. The proposal also recommends installation of a GPS system in nine vehicles.

The total cost would be about $110,000 but Kahm plans to apply for a Regionnal Air Quality Commission grant to cover 10 percent of the costs.

However, in discussing the proposal, he said estimates are the new technology will reduce spending to provide traction and icy roads by about $100,000. He also noted the reduction of dust created when crews sweep up the sand-salt mixture.


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