Hold the salt: Eau Claire using brine mix to fight winter road conditions

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – With winter weather starting to come our way, a local community has some new tricks ready to beat Old Man Winter’s slick roads.

The city of Eau Claire is now using a mix of salt and brine to melt ice and snow on roads.

It's the first winter the city has tried this solution.

The blue substance may not look like much.

But the city said the brine mix strapped to the back of salt trucks will make winter drives through Eau Claire a whole lot easier.

Street Maintenance Manager Steven Thompson said when a storm hits, trucks will deploy the brine and salt at the same time.

“It accelerates the effectiveness of the salt. It's going to activate much quicker,” Thompson said.

The brine is made of a mix of salt, beet juice and liquid chloride.

Thompson said the concoction helps coat the salt and the two work together to break up the ice and snow.

It can also be used as their first line of defense.

The city said the brine can be put out before a storm hits to break up winter slickness.

“With the brine on there, that bond should be broke and should be able to scrape it off easier,” Thompson said.

With freezing rain expected early Friday morning, city crews tested the brine out Thursday, spraying the pavement on several bridges and hills in town.

“It's going to take this winter in order to put together results depending on the different types of events,” Thompson said.

Not only is this better for the environment, Thompson said the brine could save the city thousands of dollars.

“We're all really excited about it. Anything to where we can save some money, save some time, make the roads a little safer earlier. I think it's all a benefit to the public,” Thompson said.

Thompson said crews will be cautious using brine when the temperature is below 15 degrees.

He said there is a danger that the water-based substance could freeze under that temperature.

The city said it will continue to test the brine through the winter.

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