INDOT provides insight on pre-treatment of state roadways

Indiana

With winter weather season approaching, Indiana Department of Transportation snow fighters are making sure all of their trucks and plows are ready. (Photo courtesy INDOT)

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.

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(This story was originally published on January 5, 2021)

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