The City of Red Deer has a pilot project that uses recycled sand and rock chip to keep city streets in shape during the winter. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Sand recycling program addresses icy streets in Red Deer

Reducing material bound for landfill

Recycled sand and rock chip helped give Red Deerians traction on city streets this winter through a pilot program to divert material away from the landfill.

Greg Sikora, the city’s public works manager, said last year city workers recaptured almost 9,000 tonnes from city streets during street sweeping. An exhaustive cleanup of the snow storage sites was also done so some product was from the last couple of years.

He said 2018 will be a good year to see exactly how much can be captured after a single winter.

“We’re screening it, taking out the undesirable elements. We’re basically taking the sand and small rock chip back out and using it again either in construction or back in sanding of the streets,” Sikora said.

It could be used as a base for new sidewalks, bedding for pipes and other construction activities.

The pilot allows the city to save money on new sand product which is mixed with recycled material to provide adequate traction because recycled material does degrade over time, he said.

“Although it does cost money to recycle that product, what it does do is it affords us the opportunity to work in a more sustainable manner.”

Screening the almost 9,000 tonnes cost $132,634.

“To buy that same volume of sand it would cost $175,000. That operational change basically saves the city about $42,000.”

Road upkeep during the winter months in 2018 ate up about $3.3 million, or 68 per cent, of the city’s $4.961 annual snow and ice budget.

“Typically we spend about 60 per cent in the first four months of the year. Basically 40 per cent the last three or so months of the year.”

He said the city saw 132 cm of snow which is about average. But snow came later this winter with warm periods with freezing and thawing.

“In the residential streets there was a lot of ice buildup that required us to do quite a bit of traction control.

“A lot of people assume that if the weather is warm, snow and ice control is fairly simple task but it actually introduces new a challenge.”

Sikora said a lot of de-icing was used on hills and bridges in the last two years. Crews are often out at night in anticipation of early morning snow so the public isn’t aware.

“What that does is basically prevent ice formation on the hills and bridges by not allowing that precipitation to set up in an ice form. That just really gets us ahead of the game rather than worrying about the hill going to an ice sheet.”

Crews have already switched to street sweeping and are currently sweeping medians and boulevards. It will take about 40 days to clean up sand and debris from city streets, he said.

“What we’re aiming for is the first of June.”

Then comes concrete and asphalt construction and maintenance work until the end of September, followed by last-minute construction before getting ready for snow at the end of October, he said.

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