West Hartford, Conn., keeps environment in mind during winter maintenance operations

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There is no environmentally perfect deicer, according to Brian LaVoie, manager for the department of public works in West Hartford, Conn. This is more than a gut opinion – LaVoie 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. That’s why I like this enhanced deicer. It works without being dangerous to the surroundings,” LaVoie said.

The product LaVoie uses to treat his roadways is called ClearLane® enhanced deicer from Cargill Deicing Technology.

“I could not or would not apply anything that is harmful to the soil or water. 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,” he said.

Applying less material doesn’t equate to a lesser performance, however. “I tried sand and salt, and even experimented with calcium-chloride mixtures, but none of them work as well,” LaVoie said. “The deicer allows me to use less product and get better results.”

LaVoie first started using the enhanced deicer about four years ago. “East Hartford, Conn., was already using it, then I came across it at a couple of shows,” he said.

Like most roadway experts, LaVoie has his own preferred method for applying the product. “I always pre-treat before a snowstorm. 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.”

On average, the city of West Hartford applies about 3,500 tons of the product to their 233 miles of roadway. This year, however, the city has used 6,000 tons, thanks to an increase in snow and ice storms. In future years, the city anticipates ordering between 4,000 and 5,000 tons to handle an average season.

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