Physical Plant Landscape and Construction Services staff have been working with Michael Smith, program director with the UMass Transportation Center, on introducing the use of salt brine as a roadways anti-icing agent. Smith gave multiple training workshops to the staff as the brine pilot program was set up and the correct equipment was acquired.
On Saturday, Physical Plant Landscape Services staff began a pilot program to treat campus roads and sidewalks using a brine solution of rock salt and water. A tank installed on the back of the road- and sidewalk- sanders sprays the brine solution in advance of a snowstorm. The goals are to reduce the amount of salt used and to slow the bonding of snow and ice to the hard-scape surfaces. This preventative process protects against ice formation, but uses only one-quarter of the salt normally used. This salt brine pilot program is one of many tools we have in our toolbox to respond to snow events.
The salt brine pre-treats hardscape whenever the road temperatures are predicted to drop below freezing, even when there is no snow or ice in the immediate weather forecast. The brine liquid is placed with precision on the roadway in small streams across one driving lane at a time. We will have the opportunity to provide pre-treatment at the earliest stage of a winter event.
Reducing the amount of rock salt on campus lessens environmental and infrastructure impacts to the campus landscape and hardscape and adds a useful tool to the snow response toolbox.