City of Carmel, Ind., finds winter-maintenance plan that works—and sticks to it

The city of Carmel, Ind., is not afraid to test drive new deicing technology. Over the years the northern Indianapolis suburb has spread just about every type of deicer on their roads, including agricultural products.

The results weren’t exactly what they were looking for.

“We tried agricultural products as a pretreatment on roundabouts for a few years,” said Dave Huffman, street commissioner with the city. “Cars were hitting it and sliding off the road because it was so slick, so we had to follow it with straight salt to compensate.”

The city decided to try something new, and was introduced to a product produced by Cargill Deicing Technology called ClearLane enhanced deicer. That was about eight years ago, and the city of Carmel, which maintains 250 paved lane-miles, has not looked back.

The deicer product used by Huffman is a salt product that’s different than raw rock salt because it contains a pre-wetting agent and coloring agent. These additives help keep roads clear by providing a faster reaction time and longer residual effects, and they also protect application equipment from salt-induced corrosion.

“This product was a solution for us for a number of reasons, but the reaction time is a huge benefit,” Huffman said. “In less than 15 minutes we see the effects, and we’re laying about 20-30% less product compared to straight salt, which saves time and dollars.”

While the quick reaction time creates initial effects after a snow or ice storm, the deicer’s residual effects have additionally impressed the city, and help them save on application costs and labor as well.

“There have been times when we get a dusting, an inch of snow, or even rain after a major event and the deicer product on the roads is still working,” Huffman said. “That’s a lot of dollars saved when you don’t have to send 20 trucks out to reapply.”

Huffman noted applying the deicer is easier for the trucks as well, because the product doesn’t stick together and cause jams in the spreaders.

“It didn’t take much for the drivers to come on board and enjoy the new deicing product,” Huffman said. “Spreading is so much easier because it just doesn’t clump, even after sitting in the barn all summer.”

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