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Md. to use salt brine on roads this winter

Agency is also experimenting with beet molasses to melt ice and snow

Agency is also experimenting with beet molasses to melt ice and snow

December 16, 2009|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Maryland State Highway Administration will use salt brine on roads this winter to increase motorist safety.

Tony Crawford, State Highway Administration engineer for Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties, said Wednesday during a press conference that brine will be sprayed on the road before salt is spread. As a result, the salt will become moist and more adherent to the pavement, he said.

"Snow removal is our No. 1 priority, especially this time of year," Crawford said. "We're constantly looking for ways to improve our operation."

Brine, which is a saltwater solution, is prepared at the State Highway Administration garage off Md. 65 south of Hagerstown and pumped into 3,000-gallon drums on the beds of trucks. Drivers then apply the brine to roads from nozzles near the trucks' tailgates.

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Crawford said the spray pattern covers about 11 feet, the approximate width of a lane on the highway.

In addition to using brine, the State Highway Administration is experimenting with beet molasses to melt ice and snow.

Crawford said the molasses will be mixed with salt brine and spread on roads and bridges in Frederick and Howard counties to test its effectiveness.

Beet molasses costs about $2.17 per gallon.

The solution, known as Ice Bite, will be applied to roads before ice and snow storms to prevent salt from scattering after it has been spread. Although the molasses is brown in color, it will not stain roadways or vehicles, Crawford said. It also corrodes less than salt, he said.

Crawford said the alternative methods the state is exploring to melt ice and snow already are used in Virginia, New Jersey, Ohio, Iowa and Washington, D.C.

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