Late winter storm gives Brunswick the chance to test ‘super road salt’

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BRUNSWICK, Ohio - Service Department crews in the city of Brunswick spent part of the day Monday putting plows and salt spreaders back on city trucks from which they had already been removed in anticipation of warmer weather.

With a winter storm approaching, all crews are on notice that they will be very busy over the next several days.

"It's just getting the guys prepared again, we are going to be working for 24-hour shifts you know 12-hour shifts 24 hours a day until this is cleaned up. So we will probably be working through Wednesday trying to get this cleaned up maybe into Thursday," said Ryan Lutz, the city's Street Superintendent.

While the storm threatens to make the next several days challenging across a large part of northeast Ohio it will give the city a chance, for the first time, to use a special salt additive that has been affectionately referred to as "salt on steroids."

The salt treatment, which has been intentionally dyed 'Brunswick Blue' is expected to melt snow at a temperature below where untreated road salt becomes ineffective.

It does come at an added cost, so it is used only sparingly, when the conditions warrant.

This week's late winter storm will give the city its first opportunity to use the specially treated salt. It will also, for the first time, give city officials a chance to use computers to see just how well it is working.

Sensors and cameras, provided at no cost by the manufacturer of the salt treatment, have been installed at two different intersections.

The plan is to use untreated road salt at one of the intersections and the specially treated salt at another.

"There's actually three different devices up on the traffic signals. The first device is just your normal camera so it's taking a picture. It will do that about every ten minutes," said Brunswick Service Director Paul Barnett.

"The next sensor is sensing the pavement temperature, so it will be able to tell us what the pavement temperature is, it will also tell us what the air temperature is," explained Barnett.

The third sensor will be able to detect what is called a 'Friction value,' meaning how well a car might grip the pavement.

It will also be able to say whether the pavement at that intersection is wet or dry and if it is wet, whether the road is covered by water or snow or ice or even black ice.

The sensors were completed last Thursday. Barnett says while the approaching storm is not one many people want to experience, he is actually somewhat excited about having the ability to put the treatment and the technology to the test for the first time in Ohio.

"I have been doing this for 27 years. It's nice to be able to put some numbers with it. What your experience is and compare that with some numbers so I'm excited about that. I'm not excited that we are going to have this kind of snow and it's going to be blowing which is the worst," said Barnett.

He also believes that having a choice between different salt treatments is in the best interest of the taxpayers, since it should help drive the cost down.

More stories on the snow storm here

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