Pa. Township meets challenges of converting to ice-control business

In the last few years, Jim Decker, public works director at the Stroud Township Municipal Center in Pennsylvania, hasn’t seen much snowfall.

While less snowfall may sound like a blessing for winter roadways, less snow means more ice and sleet – conditions that make it more difficult to keep roads dry and clear.

“This past year I don’t think I had even two plowable snowstorms,” Decker said. “We’ve been getting more out of the snow-removal business and more into the ice-control business, which can be challenging.”

Searching for solutions to combat the ice-glazed roadways, Decker discovered a deicing product at a winter public works symposium. Called ClearLane enhanced deicer and produced by Cargill Deicing Technology , Decker slowly began to integrate the new technology into his winter-road-maintenance routine.

“I liked using the enhanced deicer because it was effective and worked well in below-freezing temperatures. It stuck to the road and melted the ice,” Decker said.

The deicer product Decker uses is a salt product that’s different than raw rock salt because it contains a pre-wetting agent and coloring agent. As an added benefit, these chemical additives not only keep the roads clear, but also protect distribution equipment from damp salt corrosion.

“We previously used a liquid [deicing] product, and after about three years we were seeing quite a bit of corrosion on our equipment as a result,” Decker said. “And [the corrosion] was only on those vehicles where we were using liquid products. Ever since we’ve been using the enhanced deicer we’re not seeing any significant corrosion problems with any of our equipment.”

In addition to keeping roads clear and inhibiting vehicle corrosion, the product remains free flowing, even at extremely low temperatures, making distribution much easier. It also adheres to the road surface more effectively than dry salt, providing more efficient deicing by minimizing scatter from wind and traffic.

Because the additives to the product keep it from blowing or bouncing off the road, the residual effects of the deicer help maintain clear roads for a longer period of time.

“In the past, when using other products, I’d have to go out and apply multiple times to be effective, and that’s not the case anymore with the enhanced deicer technology,” Decker said. “After we apply the deicer we actually find there’s a residual effect. If we were to get a light rain after an initial application, that residual will remain on the road and take care of those small incidents. In years past, if I had a squall at 3 a.m., I’d have to call the crews to go out and treat the roads for the commuters, whereas now that’s not the case.”

Maintaining approximately 170 paved lane-miles, Decker said he uses 100% enhanced deicer on all of them. Last year he applied approximately 2,500 tons of the product, using it as a valuable solution to combat the problem of winter ice, sleet and freezing rain, all while keeping distribution vehicles free from corrosion.