The city is test-driving calcium chloride brine as an anti-icer for arterial and collector roads this snowy season, as part of a pilot project launched last spring.

Downtown bike lanes as well as roughly 40 per cent of city streets are approved for the project, of which half have been sprayed since Saturday.

The agent is less corrosive and safer for the environment than traditional salt, said Janet Tecklenborg, director of infrastructure operations, parks and roads services.

"So far we've been happy with the success but we'll have to see how it plays out through the winter," Tecklenborg told reporters Wednesday.

Calcium chloride helps snowplows clear roads by preventing ice from binding with pavement, she said.

"In the effort of safety, we wanted to trial the impacts of keeping a bare road using an anti-icing agent and understanding what that's like."

The anti-icing agent must be applied at least 24 hours before snow falls, Tecklenborg said.

Snowplows then have a 36-hour window to scrape snow and ice from the pavement, though the Edmonton pilot project aims to clear roads within 12 hours and bike lanes within 24 hours of applying calcium chloride.

Spraying the solution is estimated to cost as much as using sand, Tecklenborg said.

"If you put the sand down, you also have to pick the sand up and then either recycle it or dispose of the material. So we're hoping overall it's approximately the same cost."

Officials will monitor the effect calcium chloride has on road safety, as well as the environmental impact of its run-off on plants and waterways.

City council will review findings in the spring. If the project is successful, Tecklenborg said the solution will be used on residential roads next winter.

anti-icing map

About 40 per cent of Edmonton streets are earmarked for anti-icing. (City of Edmonton)