City testing out brine on West Trail roads

Brining requires a special truck with a 500 gallon tank and spray wand on the back

The City of Trail is testing salt brine on Green Avenue and Glover Road. (Image: City of Trail)

Brining turkeys this time of year is not a new thing, but brining arteries to West Trail certainly is.

For the first time, city crews are implementing a different type of battle against winter elements on Green Avenue and Glover Road, by testing a technique called salt brining.

The use of brines is known as anti-icing or pre-wetting measures.

“This is a new process for the City of Trail, but not new in the industry, other municipalities and highway contractors have been brining for some time now,” says Mark Stephens, grounds and roads superintendent.

“We are just testing the process right now to determine how effective it is, this will determine how we proceed.”

Salt brining requires a special truck that has a 500 gallon tank with a spray wand on the back and a small pump.

The product is applied at a rate of 30-70 litres/kilometer.

The brine, which has an organic rust inhibitor added to it, works by forming a salt layer over the road surface.

“This layer can prevent small amounts of snow from building up as was the case on Tuesday night,” Stephens explained, referring to the Dec. 12 snowfall.

“It also prevents the bonding of snow with the pavement allowing our plows to more effectively remove it and at the same time prevents ice buildup.”

Brines have the same melting characteristics of solid rock salt, but since it is applied in liquid form, the salt can begin to work immediately. The brines are also more effective in lower temperatures and can be applied days or weeks ahead of snow events.

Four years ago, the province began experimenting with another interesting product, sugar beet molasses, on southern interior highways. Beet juice is 85 per cent less corrosive than road salt and can keep highways clear of ice in temperatures as low as -25 C, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The product is applied to the road the same way as salt brine – using a spray bar at the back of a truck or trailer.

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