MoDOT crews use science to amp up snow and ice removal

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Snow plow operators spent the weekend fighting the latest winter blast, and in recent years crews have amped up their forces with scientific solutions.

Most people may have heard their fair share of department of transportation shop talk this winter.

"We will mix up some brine and calcium chloride to try to spray on the salt," said Corey Hansen, a Missouri Department of Transportation night supervisor.

It’s not just good old' sand and salt anymore used to melt ice and snow. In an all-out affront to wintry weather, there's now geo-melt beet juice and calcium chloride swirling around on metro streets.

"We have to start using more of the instruments in our tool box," said Marcus Slaughter, a MoDOT day supervisor.

In order to sort it all out FOX 4 talked with the day and night supervisors at MoDOT. They are basically in charge of mixing the variety of cocktails that treat the streets.

When single digit temperatures strike with the one-two punch of ice and snow, the experts said no solution is sure fire. So in that case salt, sand and cinder, at least get our wheels moving.

"We are really just looking to get some traction right now," said Hansen.

To review the confusing concoctions FOX 4’s Carey Wickersham went inside the dome where it’s stored. There were mounds of the key ingredient, rock salt. A salt and sand mix is used on the interstates, and a salt and cinder mixture is used on less traveled roads.

Used alone the mixes melt the ice in warmer temperatures, but when it’s really cold, something additional is needed to trigger the salt.

Mix any of the abrasives with a fluid or chemical like beet juice or calcium chloride, and you get a liquid melting activator more commonly called brine. It can be effective down to 15 degrees. And there is one truck that does it all.

“That truck right there, you could be dumping salt out of the salt bed and spraying brine right behind it,” said Hansen.

The MoDOT mix masters factor in temperatures, the type of precipitation falling, time of day and traffic volume, in an ever valiant effort to destroy all that is ice bound and snow laden from our city streets.




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