City of Duluth, MnDOT prepare for icy roads
If an ice storm comes, crews with the Minnesota Department of Transportation are ready, says department spokesman John Bray in Duluth. Crews already have applied a de-icing solution to bridges, ramps, overpasses and other elevated structures that...
If an ice storm comes, crews with the Minnesota Department of Transportation are ready, says department spokesman John Bray in Duluth.
Crews already have applied a de-icing solution to bridges, ramps, overpasses and other elevated structures that tend to freeze up first, he said. The potent de-icing solution -- liquid magnesium chloride -- is applied before icing builds up.
In Duluth, roads were in good shape this afternoon after all 19 sand trucks were out salting streets during the day as temperatures hovered around freezing, said Barb Kolodge, the city's street maintenance supervisor.
"At that point it doesn't take that much salt to keep water from freezing," Kolodge said. "One truck with a full load of salt can go a long ways. They were able to cover the vast majority of city and a lot of the side streets."
The task was done despite a major water main break about 7 a.m. near Woodland Avenue and Garden Street, which diverted two trucks and two graders for several hours for the cleanup, she said.
With roads in good shape, crews were sent home at 3:30 p.m. today when shifts ended. A skeleton crew will work through midnight maintaining the streets, with another quarter inch of rain expected to fall between 6 p.m. and midnight. A new crew comes on at 2 a.m. Tuesday.
"From what they're predicting, it looks like that'll be sufficient," Kololdge said. "If not, we just call in more people."
If a bad ice storm does develop, the transportation department's entire crew of 190 trained snowplow operators in Northeastern Minnesota and 95 snow plows will be out in force. Working 12-hour shifts, they'll be working around the clock, applying sand, salt and salt brine and other de-icers to highways, Bray said.
Besides snow removal, the plows are equipped for ice fighting with sand, salt and tanks of liquid magnesium chloride.
"All our stock of salts and liquids is available and ready to go," Bray said.
What de-icer is used on ice is up to the drivers, who make that decision based on air temperature, thickness of the ice and other conditions.
For example, when pavement is about 20 degrees, pure road salt is often applied, sometimes pre-wet with salt brine to help it stick to the roadway rather than being blown away.
While crews will be busy de-icing highways, the public should do their part by driving carefully, Bray said.
"When it's raining out and it's wintertime, you know you're going to hit some ice," he said. "Slow down, don't talk on your cell phone, keep both hands on the wheel and pay attention to the road."