Edmonton to continue spraying calcium chloride on roads for another winter

Concerns raised about how Edmonton plans to tackle snow on city streets
WATCH ABOVE: Concerns are being raised about the new calcium chloride mixture Edmonton may use to tackle snow on city streets going forward. Sarah Kraus filed this report in July 2018.

Calcium chloride solution will be sprayed on Edmonton roads again this winter. Global News has learned that year two of a pilot project will carry on as planned, and the same area that was used last winter will see trucks equipped with nozzles return.

However, a report that is due to be released Thursday for next week’s community services committee will contain a twist. This time, an improved inhibitor will be added to the mix, in an attempt to allay fears that the salt brine designed to melt snow also won’t do damage to your vehicle.

“We’re not necessarily changing the mix,” said Janet Tecklenborg, director of Infrastructure Operations with the City of Edmonton.

“We’re taking what we learned from last year and we’re optimizing it to try to minimize the impact of getting to bare pavement. So we want to minimize the amount of calcium chloride or sodium chloride that’s needed to get to bare pavement.”

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READ MORE: Chemical engineer pleads with city to stop using calcium chloride on Edmonton roads

Councillor Mike Nickel would prefer the city go back to the old way of handling the roads, once Mother Nature throws more winter at us.

“I told them weeks ago to stop, drop and roll, as we are on fire with this one,” the Ward 11 councillor wrote in a text.

Edmonton tries out a new solution on some roads.
Edmonton tries out a new solution on some roads. Global News

In the first year of the pilot project, crews sprayed a salt brine solution to keep the amount of snow on roads from piling up — resulting in a savings of $4.3 million, according to a June city report.

That’s a seven per cent savings from the five-year average from 2013 to 2017 of $62.2 million. The number of snowfall days was comparable to the five-year average.

READ MORE: Is calcium chloride solution used on Edmonton winter roads pet-friendly?

Councillor Andrew Knack said he’s hearing good and bad. The good was improved traction on the roads — the bad was a concern for vehicles, driveways and garage pads, as the salt left both metal and concrete vulnerable to damage.

“It’s great that the city might have saved money overall in their budget — but is that cost just getting pushed off to everyone else through enhanced maintenance of their vehicles and other infrastructure?”

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Tecklenborg said the city is putting together a “robust monitoring program” as part of this year’s pilot project that will look at the impact on metal, asphalt, concrete and the environment.

“We are looking at our bridge program to understand if there is going to be an impact of the calcium and sodium chloride on the bridge lifestyle, and when we do our inspections, if there is going to be an implication by using this material.”

City council is heading into a four-year budget cycle, however Knack said he’s reluctant to have the budget reflect the $4.3 million or more savings.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s salt brine pilot saved city $4.3M on snow and ice removal efforts: report

“If things work out after this year’s test— after testing out the new solution — then great, you can make an adjustment afterwards. But I think it would be more responsible for us to budget for the full amount that we normally would and then adjust separately afterwards,” Knack said.

City administration has decided to use the same road footprint for this second year of the pilot project, so they can see how the pavement reacts compared to what was observed when a base line was established last year, our source said.

Since only a portion of the city is going to be using the new calcium chloride solution with the new inhibitor, the overall budget savings would increase if or when city council decides to use it to cover the entire road network.

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