The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) announced that it will be using a new method of road pre-treatment prior to the forecasted winter storm tomorrow, Saturday, February 11, 2012. Starting today, the Department will be applying a salt brine solution on a test portion of I-95 North and South, from Exit 7 in West Greenwich to the area of Exit 20 in Providence.
The operation consists of two trucks applying the brine solution (a saltwater concentrate) one lane at a time, beginning with the low-speed lanes. Drivers will make continuing passes until this entire section of I-95 has been treated. Motorists encountering this operation should use caution, as the trucks will be traveling below the posted speed limit during the application.
The highway will appear wet for some time, but as it evaporates, a thin layer of salt will remain on the roadway. When snowfall begins tomorrow, it will prevent ice and snow from bonding with the pavement.
The conventional method of road pre-treatment involves the application of salt timed right before the first flakes fall. Salt brine is advantageous because it can be applied up to three days before the storm, providing an initial treatment of salt at the beginning of snowstorms when roads often become slick very quickly.
"We think this new technology will keep roads clearer longer, but motorists should not expect snow-free surfaces at all times, as all storms vary in intensity," RIDOT Director Michael P. Lewis said. "We still urge motorists to exercise caution by reducing their speed and avoiding unnecessary travel during snowstorms."
Once a snowstorm is under way, RIDOT works to plow and apply sand and salt to keep the roads as clear as possible. A key goal is to keep a slushy, briny solution on the pavement surface, which keeps the snow from becoming compacted and then freezing. This method also quickens final clean up once the storm is over.
RIDOT will evaluate the effectiveness of the salt brine during this weekend's storm and hopes to expand its usage to other highways and roads. In certain conditions, the application of a salt brine solution may not be feasible because it is dependent on air and surface temperatures.
The Department expects to reduce the overall usage of salt during storms using this salt brine application. Additionally, the Department has outfitted many of its trucks with more precise salt metering systems to better control the application of this material – the most costly components of winter storm operations. The Department also provides incentives for private state-contracted vendors who choose to use more efficient and environmentally friendly methods of applying road salt during winter storms.
Those with questions can contact RIDOT's Customer Service office at 401-222-2450 weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Additional information will be available on RIDOT's social media sites on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and Blogger.
Contact: Charles St. Martin 401-222-1362, Ext. 4007