Snow & Ice Control

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Snow and Ice Control for paved road surfaces is completed using a fleet of five (5) heavy trucks (also utilized in road graveling programs then equipped with plows and sanders for winter operations), and ten (10) staff. In order to meet winter maintenance demands, the compliment of staff members, maintaining all five (5) trucks on the road for improved service delivery. Each truck is assigned a primary response area which is approximately 40 Km’s (80 lane Km’s) of road. Plows are utilized to remove the accumulated snow from the surface, while an application of calcium, salt & sand placement assists in de-icing road surfaces; improving traction for motor vehicles. Without calcium application motor vehicle generated draft and nature's winds can blow salt & sand from the road surface, essentially no different than throwing money in the ditch. It is important to note that calcium, salt & sand application is typical at intersections, otherwise applied where ice has formed on the driving surface.

For your own safety, and reduced risk of being blasted with sand, never follow any closer than 30 meters behind a plow truck. Never pass a plow truck as the visibility of oncoming traffic may be restricted. Plow trucks will pull over to allow motorists to pass where safe to do so.

In addition to this ten (10) graders maintain the gravel road surfaces. There are a number of practices utilized, as well as a number of attachments available to perform snow removal on gravel road surfaces. In response to light accumulations a grader with its blade down, 25mm above the road surface is utilized to clear the driving lanes. Response to an event with say a meter of snow may require operators to utilize a vee-plow or plow attachment. Once driving surfaces are passable, grader operators will begin a second round to wing back snow utilizing their side wing attachment. This opens up the road, pushes snow back for future events and aides in reducing drifting of snow.

For your own safety never follow any closer than 30 meters behind a grader. Never pass a grader as visibility of oncoming traffic may be restricted and at times where drifts are present the equipment may instantly change course of direction beyond the operator's control. Graders will pull over periodically and where safe to do so to allow motorists to pass.


Evaluating Anti-Icing

What is the difference between anti-icing, pre-treatment, pre-wetting, and de-icing?
• Anti-icing – The application of chemicals to roads before a snow to pavement bond occurs.  Anti-icing emphasizes prevention rather than reaction.

• Pre-treatment – A form of anti-icing where chemicals are applied to the road up to 48 hours before a winter storm to prevent a bond from forming between the pavement and the snow and ice when the storm starts.

• De-icing – The practice of removing snow or ice once it has bonded to the pavement.  This involves plowing and continual application of chemicals and abrasives.  Plowing generally begins when an inch or more of snow has accumulated on the road.

• Pre-wetting – Involves treating the dry de-icing chemicals with liquids before they are applied to the roadway as part of the de-icing efforts.  This accelerates the activation of the chemicals before they are applied to the road.  Pre-wetted chemicals are not typically applied to roads before snow or ice accumulates.

What chemicals are used in anti-icing and de-icing?
Sodium chloride (salt), potash, magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate, and potassium acetate are chemicals used to prevent and remove snow and ice from roadways.  The County of Newell uses calcium chloride anti-icing/pre-treatment and have used it for pre-wetting for years.  Calcium chloride is stored in 32% liquid form at a storage yard near the new facility.  Calcium chloride is the main product utilized for the County’s dust abatement program as well.  

Potash – Potash is used as the County of Newell’s primary snow-removal and ice control chemical.  It is applied directly to the pavement once the storm starts.  Potash is sometimes mixed with sand before it is applied to the road.  Potash is most effective after the snow has accumulated about an inch and the temperature is -7°C or higher.  If the temperature is below -7°C, potash may not melt enough snow and ice to form a barrier between the pavement and the snow and could even produce more ice as melted snow refreezes.  Pre-wetting the sand/potash mixture with calcium chloride will help with temperatures below -7°C; however, when temperatures fall below -15°C, everything freezes to the road.  At these temperatures, abrasives such as sand are put down to break up ice and increase traction.

Calcium Chloride – These products can melt ice at lower temperatures than salt.  Both chemicals in liquid form can be used for anti-icing.  In its dry form, calcium chloride is used only as a de-icer.  Calcium chloride is an economical anti-icing/pre-treatment and pre-wetting chemical.

When & Where will the County evaluate anti-icing?
The County of Newell may use anti-icing when snow or an ice storm is anticipated.  Temperature and type of precipitation at the start of a storm will determine its use.  The County of Newell’s anti-icing evaluation program covers 50 km of roads in various areas within the County.

What should I do if I see an anti-icing truck on the road?
If you see an anti-icing crew spraying chemicals on the road, slow down.  For proper application, crews will be driving slower than highway speeds.  Do not follow the trucks too closely, as the chemicals are slightly slippery for the first 30 to 45 seconds they are on the pavement.  If you must pass an anti-icing truck, do so carefully.  It is a good idea to wash your vehicle if it comes into contact with these chemicals to protect its finish.
What is black ice?
Black ice, also known as "glare ice” or "clear ice,” refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on road.  While not truly black, it is transparent, allowing you to see the asphalt pavement through it.  Black ice often occurs along with wet roads, making it hard to see and especially hazardous for driving or walking.

What areas are more prone to have ice?
Ice can form sooner on the decks of bridges and overpasses before it does on the roadway because air can circulate both above and below the surface of the elevated roadway, causing the pavement temperature to drop more rapidly. Ice can also form in shaded areas.  Motorists should always use caution and expect slippery conditions when driving during winter weather.