New salting system lowers costs while treating roads faster

Racine gets new salt brining system

CREATED Feb 4, 2013

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RACINE – Many snows this winter have been relatively light; not quite enough to plow but still enough to make the roads slick enough where salt trucks are needed.

“We only salt for snows less than three inches,” Commissioner of Public Works Mark Yehlen said.

And since most of the snowfall in southeast Wisconsin has been close to that criteria, Racine Public Works vehicles have been spreading a lot of salt.

But the city now has a new salt brining system to help save money with all the salting they do.

"In the past we budgeted about $360,000 a year for salt, this current year we budgeted about $300,000," Yehlen said.

He adds each winter is different, but they expect to save $60,000 each year with the new brining system on salt alone. But it’s not just a cost-saving machine, adding liquid brine to the dry salt cuts the time it takes to treat the streets.

Dry salt by itself is not very effective when temperatures are in the single digits and teens but adding the salty brine liquid mixture, the salt not only stays on the road, it starts treating the slick spots faster.

"It activates the salt, the whole chemical process of lowering the melting temperature of the water, it just happens faster and it's more efficient," Yehlen explains.

Racine already has ten trucks fitted with brine tanks and they plan to add more to treat the roads even faster, curbing costs as well as dangerous conditions Yehlen hopes that it's just helping Mother Nature do her job.