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Treating Roads With Salt Not Always Effective

Posted at 8:49 PM, Jan 21, 2013

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The Kent County Road Commission started attacking the roads around 5 a.m. Monday with roughly 80 to 90 trucks.

Director of Maintenance Jerry Byrne said crews treated the main freeway system first with a sand and salt mixture, because salt alone does not always work when temperatures reach a certain point.

“At 20 degrees it really starts losing its effectiveness,” Byrne said. “Anything lower than that it will take 10 times the amount of salt at say 15 degrees as it will at 30.” To be effective a low temperatures, trucks would have to put 2,000 pounds per mile, said Byrne, “and the environment can’t take that.”

It wasn’t uncommon Monday for a few road commission trucks to work the same 20-mile stretch of heavily traveled roadway just to keep the slick spots down.

Much of Monday night into Tuesday morning was going to be spent just scraping snow off the roads. The back roads are basically covered with a dry snow, so it does have some traction, he added.

If people have concerns, phones are answered 24 hours a day. Byrne understands that people are frustrated because it is slow going, but he encourages everyone to keep in mind that crews can not just make things happen when it gets too cold.