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Sussex experiments with salt brine to combat ice, snow on winter roads

June 16, 2014

Village of Sussex – With winter clean-up costs packing a punch on many municipalities' public works budgets, community leaders throughout the region are looking at ways to mitigate some of the high costs.

Sussex is following suit with a new method that calls for laying down salt brine when the threat of snow and ice becomes imminent. On Tuesday, June 10, the village board voted to move forward with the treatment this winter.

"Using salt brine on our roads will improve the quality of our winter weather plowing operations significantly and will save the village money, moving forward," Scott Ascher, the village's public works foreman, said.

There are one-time costs associated with switching from the traditional salt and sand method to the salt brine procedure. Village vehicles will need to be outfitted with new equipment – including side-mounted brine tanks – that will result in a $96,750 expense.

But after crunching a series of numbers, Ascher and Assistant Village Manager Melissa Weiss assert the village stands to save $16,000 annually by switching methods.

Ascher said salt brine has proven effective as an anti-ice treatment because it slows the formation of ice on streets and works against the bonding that traditionally takes place when snow and ice form together on pavement.

"If brine is used as a pre-wet system, mixing with the salt on the truck as it is spreading, it makes the salt more effective in less time," Ascher said. "Using salt brine in this manner is more effective, efficient and environmentally friendly."

Ascher said other communities that have used salt brine as a treatment method have reported a reduction in salt use by about 20 percent throughout each winter season. The scenario has proven cost-effective from the standpoint of supplies and manpower.

When brine is used as a pre-wet system, meaning it is applied to roads 24 to 48 hours in advance of a snow event, it helps prevent the bond of snow and ice to the pavement, reducing the amount of salt needed during the actual event," Ascher said. "(It) reduces staff time on the road during the event."

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