NEW PHILADELPHIA, Ohio — The sun is shining, and there’s no snow in the forecast. What is ODOT putting on the roads, and why?
The answer – salt brine. Brine is simply salt and water mixed together and using it prevents icing on bridges. Bridges ice before roadways due to the lack of insulation underneath them.
Cold air can change the surface temperature of a bridge more quickly than a section of roadway that has dirt under it. Black ice or frost occurs when the bridge’s surface temperature drops below freezing.
As a result, a bridge could potentially have a thin layer of black ice or frost not visible to a motorist. District 11 uses the latest in pavement sensor technology to predict winter road conditions and frost.
Ten Road Weather Information Sensors (RWIS) stations across seven counties continually monitor pavement conditions and when combined with information supplied by contracted meteorologists who analyze data from 180 RWIS stations statewide, it is possible to predict freezing conditions along with pavement sensitive forecasts.
ODOT crews pretreat bridges when the threat of icing is forecast by spraying brine on a bridge’s surface. Motorists can see this by the white line residue left on the pavement.
“Any time the temperature drops below 32 degrees whether snow is in the forecast or not my crews are pre-treating bridges to prevent black ice and frost,” said Fred Wenger, Tuscarawas County Manager.
Brine also helps to prevent snow from packing down and bonding to the roadway surface, creating icy roadways. This packed down snow, called hard pack, is a safety and economic concern, because it can take 10 times more salt to break it up once it has formed.
Brine has become a very important weapon for ODOT crews in its fight against snow and ice. “The main reason we use brine is to make the roads safer for the motoring public by utilizing pre-treating methods,” said Vince Carter, Carroll County Manager. “Brine definitely gives our winter maintenance crews the advantage when fighting a storm.”