Edmonton

First round of city's new salt brine hits Edmonton streets

Don't be shocked if you see trucks watering city streets this winter. The city isn't icing the roads but doing the opposite by spraying salt brine as part of a new pilot project aimed at keeping roads clean and safe.

'This is the way it's done in most cities across Canada,' city official says

A truck loaded with salt brine gets ready to spray city streets.

Don't be shocked if you see trucks watering city streets this winter.

The city isn't icing the roads but doing the opposite by spraying salt brine as part of a new pilot project aimed at keeping roads clean and safe.

"This is the way it's done in most cities across Canada, from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Toronto to Calgary," said Janet Tecklenborg, director of infrastructure operations, parks and roads services.

"We wanted to pilot it here as well, just to see if we can get the black roads, which should ultimately lead to safer roads and less accidents."

Two to five centimetres of snow has fallen in Edmonton over the last 48 hours.  On Monday, before the snowfall, the plan was to spray up to 2,400 kilometres of roads with salt brine. Crews managed to get to 60 per cent of the roads.
 
So far, early indications show the anti-icer is working the way it was expected to, Tecklenborg said.

Crews will continue to remove the snow even with salt brine on the road. The chemical softens snow, making it easier to remove. There's not as much to plow or take away either, because snow melts once it hits the roads. 

"Our intent is to get to bare road 12 hours after the snow event on the pilot areas, and so you'll see black road," said Tecklenborg. "Prior to that you would see snow accumulation and sand being applied. And now we're trying to get down to bare road."
A view of the corner of 95th street and 107th Avenue on Wednesday.

That doesn't mean sand will become a thing of the past. Sand will still used, but not as much as in the past. That way there won't be as much to pick up and dispose of come spring, city officials said. 

The salt brine is composed of calcium chloride. Other types of salt used across the county are made up of sodium chloride, which is known to be more corrosive.

"The material does have an anti-corrosion agent in it to reduce that as well," said Tecklenborg. "So although it is a salt and it is slightly corrosive, it is less corrosive than the traditional road salt or sodium chloride that we have used before." 

The pilot project will include spraying downtown bike lanes and 167 bus lanes.