Red Deer has tested the products it uses on roads in the winter. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer careful about overuse of road salt

Focus on anti-icing to reduce salt use

A salt management plan is in place for Red Deer to reduce corrosive impacts on roadways.

According to recent media reports, Edmonton is assessing its use of the salt calcium chloride over concerns that it can damage concrete and asphalt.

Greg Sikora, Red Deer public works manager, said he was unsure what type of calcium chloride brine Edmonton uses, but Red Deer has tested the products it uses in the winter.

“We don’t see the negative affects of overuse and over application of salt,” Sikora said.

“If used in moderation, and as required, it achieves the affect we’re looking for from a snow management perspective and it does not adversely affect our infrastructure.”

He said Red Deer uses sodium chloride, which is standard salt, and a product called Road Guard, which is comprised of a solution of different chlorides, including calcium chloride. Road Guard also contains an organic-based erosion inhibitor which reduces corrosiveness.

He said public works did a visual test by leaving a nail in three containers of either water, sodium chloride or Road Guard for over two years. All three liquids had a similar impact on the nail, but sodium chloride showed the most change, and the impact from Road Guard was between water and sodium chloride.

Road Guard claims its corrosive inhibitor makes the product less corrosive than sodium chloride, he said.

“From this demonstration we can say we feel comfortable that our use of this product does yield what the manufacturer says it does.”

Sikora said Alberta Transportation endorses the use of Road Guard for de-icing and anti-icing, and has been used in Red Deer for about four years.

The City of Red Deer pretreats some roads, hills and bridges to reduce icing. When it gets below -12 C, typically sand is applied for traction rather than salt.

“We try to be on the proactive end where we don’t have the situation where we have to apply salt in the concentrations to burn off ice. That’s not where we want to go. We focus on the anti-icing which is the preventative measure.”

He said sealers are applied to bridge decks. Washing programs in the spring and summer make sure the chlorides do not migrate through the concrete to the steel.

“We see the use of salt varying greatly across this country. If you go to Eastern Canada, their use of salt is considerably more than we use in Red Deer. In Red Deer it is not applied to the concentration that we have residual salt sitting visibly on the roads. We just don’t apply in that volume.”

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