Instant impact

Winter maintenance challenges faced by the city of Dublin, Ohio, are not unlike those facing many other Midwestern municipalities. The city services 499 paved lane-miles, and driver safety is paramount among its concerns. As a result, city officials routinely look for effective ways to increase safety and surface traction by minimizing the dangers presented by ice and snow.

One discovery made by the city is a product called ClearLane enhanced deicer from Cargill Deicing Technology , which they came across at an American Public Works Association show. Having attempted to create their own wetted salt mixes in the past, city officials were intrigued at the possibility of an off-the-shelf, prewetted product and decided to try it out.

With the first application of the enhanced deicer, city officials were impressed. Today, those officials are convinced they have found the best product on the market for melting ice and have no thoughts of going back to home brews.

“The moment we spread it on the roadways, we could see it melting ice,” said William Grubaugh Jr., operations administrator for streets and utilities for the city of Dublin. “Unlike salt that takes significant amounts of time to work in colder temperatures, the deicer works instantly.”

Because the product works quickly, Grubaugh said, his department goes through much less deicer. Using salt, the city generally overapplied to get results, but while using the deicer they have significantly reduced the amount needed, and they are getting better results.

“Before the enhanced deicer, we experimented with different blends like calcium-chloride for wetting salt in our trucks, but the results never met our expectations. Leaching was also a big problem for us. With the deicer, we haven’t had any leaching at all,” Grubaugh said.

In mixing their own product, the city confronted additional problems with inconsistent mixes that gave solidified results, Grubaugh said. They would end up with one giant salt rock in the back of the truck, and at the end of the day, they realized they could not produce a product on their own that outperformed the deicer in terms of overall effectiveness, which translates to safer roads for motorists.

The enhanced deicer product used by the city is a salt product that is different from raw rock salt because it contains a prewetting agent and coloring agent. These chemical additives help keep roads clear by providing a faster reaction time and longer residual effects and also protecting distribution equipment from damp salt corrosion.

“Our first issue is always road safety, and nothing works better than the enhanced deicer,” Grubaugh said. “This year we used up our entire stock of the enhanced deicer, some 2,000 tons. Had we been able to get 3,000 tons, we would have used every bit of that too.”