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Get the facts about the City's snow and ice control pilot.

During winter 2018-2019, the City continued the snow and ice control pilot that was started in 2017. The pilot focused on using the right tool for the right conditions, including salt, sand, brine or mechanical means.  As part of the pilot, anti-icer brine was applied to about 3,000 km of roads, or about 40% of Edmonton’s arterial and collector roads.

Anti-icer is a calcium chloride solution with an added molasses corrosion inhibitor. It is applied in a thin layer to roads, either before a snow event or after a snowfall. The brine prevents the snow from sticking to the pavement, helping the roads to stay clear longer and making snow removal easier. It reduces the need for plowing and sanding.

During the initial pilot, brine was applied in small quantities to select arterial roads once per snow event, before the snow fell. Roads treated with brine stayed bare longer, road surface friction increased and stopping distances were reduced.

We will ensure we are using the brine to its maximum effectiveness during this pilot. This includes developing processes, collecting data, training our people and continually monitoring weather patterns.

Research and Monitoring Studies

Over the winter months, the City worked with several third-party organizations to carry out testing on the effects of the snow and ice program on safety, infrastructure and the environment. All of the results from this testing are compiled in the following documents:

  1. Effects of Achieving Bare Pavement on Collisions
  2. Effects of Salt and Brine on Roadway Concrete (11 MB)
  3. Effects of Salt and Brine on Residential Concrete
  4. Effects of Salt and Brine on Asphalt
  5. Effects of Salt and Brine on Metal Corrosion
  6. Anti-Icing Soil Salinity Data Review
  7. Effects of Salt and Brine on Soil

Safety

Dogs

In small quantities, anti-icer is safe for animals and should not be a concern for most healthy dogs. Any casual contact followed by cleaning should keep your dog safe. When you take your dog for a walk:

  • Walk around sidewalk areas where homeowners have placed salt pellets
  • Stop your dog from drinking puddled winter water because of possible salt content
  • Clean your dog’s paws with water after the walk
  • Don’t let your dog lick their paws until after you’ve cleaned them, but don’t worry if they have a couple licks

People

Small amounts of brine spread thinly on roads are unlikely to cause any health concerns. In large quantities, it can cause skin irritation. City crews wear personal protective equipment when applying the product because they are exposed to much larger quantities than the average citizen.

How it Works

Anti-icing brine acts as a debonding agent when applied before a snowfall. This makes snow removal easier and more effective, resulting in better conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. In the winter 2017 trial, the City found that roads treated with anti-icer had greater friction and stopping distances were reduced.

Monitoring and Evaluation

As part of the pilot, we will be testing, monitoring and analyzing information in the following areas:

  • Environment
  • Corrosion
  • Infrastructure
  • Safety
  • Financial savings

This makes snow removal easier and more effective, resulting in better conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. In the winter 2017 trial, the City found that roads treated with anti-icer had greater friction and stopping distances were reduced.

By preventing snow from sticking to the road, the City can potentially save time, money and resources, because plowing won’t be required as often and sand may not need to be applied.

Vehicle Wear and Tear

We do not expect to see an increase in vehicle corrosion for two reasons:

  • Calcium chloride is less corrosive than traditional sodium chloride road salt, which is mixed into the road sand that Edmonton has used for many years
  • We expect to apply less of the product to the roads, compared to road sand

For More Information

Roadway Maintenance

Telephone

Call 311 for more information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

TTY 780-944-5555
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