January 21, 2019 7:54 pm
Updated: January 21, 2019 7:55 pm

Using calcium chloride on Calgary streets a balancing act

Global News

The city of Calgary has been using calcium chloride for the past 25 years in its snow and ice control efforts.

The city’s roads maintenance department has no issues with the use of the chemical despite the concerns raised in Edmonton about damage to roadways.

PART 1 OF OUR INVESTIGATION: Newly uncovered City of Edmonton memo raises questions about impacts of calcium chloride

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“Because we’ve used it for 25 years, we understand yes there are damages caused by this product but they are not as typically significant and we are also balancing that with public citizen safety,” said Bill Biensch, manager of road maintenance for the city of Calgary.

“We are trying to provide winter driving conditions that are safe for the general public.”

There are a number of different road salts used for snow and ice control. Biensch says calcium chloride is a very effective product and the city uses it to pre-treat some of the major roads in Calgary as well as known trouble spots. The liquid product is also applied to solid materials to help ensure products stay on the road surface.

PART 2 OF OUR INVESTIGATION: Edmonton councillor seeks inquiry after calcium chloride memo fails to reach city council

While admitting there is some damage to roadways, Biensch said there are many other things that can cause damage.

“We have higher loads on our roadways as we’re seeing more truck traffic, we’re seeing changes in the configuration of our heavy trucks from dual wheels to single wheels, even just the volume of traffic we’re seeing on our roadways — that all lead to or continue to deteriorate these roadways.

“So it’s very difficult to specifically say one certain component is causing damage to your roadway.”

By the numbers, in 2018, the city of Calgary used 900,000 litres of calcium chloride, 300,000 litres of sodium chloride, 95,000 tonnes of salt and 42,000 of pickle (a salt and sand mixture) on snow and ice control to deal with more than 220 centimetres of snow that fell in the year.

WATCH BELOW: The city said it will continue to forge ahead with a pilot project that sees a calcium chloride brine used to keep streets free of snow and ice. Kent Morrison has more on the city’s update. ( Nov. 21, 2018) 

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