INDIANA (WEHT) — Prior to a winter weather event, INDOT utilizes a Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) that provides weather forecasts, pavement temperatures and recommendations on treating various surfaces. Predictions of accumulating snow and ice are the main reasons why INDOT pre-treats a roadway, but freezing fog and heavy frost are also scenarios where pre-treatment is effective. Bridges, overpasses and elevated surfaces may be treated more heavily as they tend to freeze first.
INDOT pre-treats roadways with salt brine, which is a solution made up of water and 23.3 percent salt, to prevent snow and ice from bonding to pavement and creating slick spots. Brine is effective at temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit and can even be mixed with other chemicals to lower the freezing point even further if necessary.
The brine solution is inexpensive and because it is applied as a liquid, it also stays in place better and longer than salt crystals and stays where it is directed. Solid salt crystals can bounce off the road when they are spread along a route. Light rain will not wash away brine from a surface if it has had time to completely dry and adhere to the roadway.
Roads are typically pre-treated 24 to 48 hours before a weather event is expected, even when temperatures are above freezing. This adds an extra layer of protection and makes clean-up easier. It can take anywhere from 12 to 16 hours for an INDOT unit to pre-treat all routes before a storm.
For more information, visit the INDOT winter operations website.
(This story was originally published on January 5, 2021)
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