Connecticut city balances eco responsibility and safety with winter-maintenance activities

Snow and Ice Removal Case Studies
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The city of West Hartford, Conn., spent years wrestling with their collective conscience. They had a primary responsibility to provide quality winter-maintenance services for their roadways but didn’t want to damage the surroundings by using environmentally unfriendly deicing products.


“There is no environmentally perfect deicer,” said Brian LaVoie, manager for the Department of Public Works in West Hartford, who also holds a degree in environmental sciences. “It’s tough. From an environmental perspective the safest thing to use is nothing. From a road-safety aspect, that’s not feasible.”


Determined to find a solution, LaVoie heard about a more environmentally friendly deicer product from neighboring East Hartford, Conn., and decided to find out more. He did his research, learned about the product at various trade shows and decided to try it out.


The product LaVoie discovered to treat roadways is called ClearLane enhanced deicer. Produced by Cargill Deicing Technology, the enhanced deicer is a salt product that’s different than regular rock salt because it contains a pre-wetting agent. Made with chemical and natural additives, the product is better for the environment and the pre-wet feature helps clear roads by providing a faster reaction time and longer residual effects.


“I could not, or would not, apply anything that is harmful to the soil or water. That’s why I chose this deicing product,” he said. “I’m convinced that applying the least amount of deicer possible is the best solution. With the product, I apply significantly less material compared to the amount of sand/salt mixtures I used in the past.”


Like most roadway experts, LaVoie indicated he has his own preferred method for applying the product over the city’s 233 lane-miles. Over the years he’s developed a strategy to combine anti-icing and deicing that takes advantage of the product’s residual characteristics.


“I always pre-treat before a snowstorm,” he said. “In many cases, I don’t even need to come back and re-treat unless there was significant snow that required plowing. Even then, there seems to be a residual effect that helps. I find that the longer I can keep the deicer on the road before plowing, the more effective it is.”


Along with the residual effects, LaVoie found that applying less material didn’t equate to poor performance. When he discovered that applying less of the eco-friendlier product also meant less impact on the environment, he had found his solution.


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