City of Edmonton takes advantage of cold snap to test new snow-clearing approach on roads

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WATCH ABOVE: Most Edmontonians aren't too happy about Mother Nature's late winter dump of snow these days but as Vinesh Pratap reports, it's perfect for the city as it tests out a new approach to clearing snow off roads – Mar 10, 2017

While many Edmontonians likely don’t see any silver lining to Mother Nature’s late winter dump of snow and icy misery, the City of Edmonton sees it as a splendid time to suss out its latest tools for keeping roads clear of snow.

The city’s roadway maintenance department is running a pilot project to test the use of anti-icing units, similar to ones already used by private contractors, that can hold 7,500 litres of the road-clearing liquid.

“All the materials spray out of the back out of these nozzles,” said Carmacks Maintenance Service’s Graeme Douglas, whose company already uses the method to clear the northwest leg of Anthony Henday Drive. “It sprays a swath…. we can do approximately two lanes in one pass.”

The city says the idea behind anti-icing is to take a pre-emptive strike at the roads before the snow falls by spraying streets with liquid calcium along with a corrosion inhibitor.

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“It’s a calcium-chloride product that we use to prevent the snow from bonding to the pavement when it’s snowing,” Douglas said. “It’s more or less like spraying PAM (cooking spray) into a frying pan.

The city is focusing on three areas to test the de-icing method with its own crews: the entire stretch of Yellowhead Trail, St. Albert Trail from 156 Street to the Yellowhead and Calgary Trail and Gateway Boulevard from 19 Avenue to Whitemud Drive.

READ MORE: Less snow helps City of Edmonton save $64M in operational costs

“Preliminary results have been great,” John Potter with the City of Edmonton said. “It buys us some time to get on the road. It prevents the snow and ice from compacting onto the road.”

According to the city, it’s hoped the new de-icing method will save it money if less street sand and plowing is needed.

“Another intention is to provide a safer driving surface for the citizens of Edmonton,” Potter added.

City council will discuss a review of its snow and ice control policy in June at which time it’s expected to be decided whether de-icing is here to stay.

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-With files from Vinesh Pratap.

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