As snowstorms appear to be threatening our area after a warm start to the winter season, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino is prepared to “beet” the dangers of icy, snow-covered streets. Joined by Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Gary Hudes and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, Santino announced that the town has installed a brine system to pre-treat roadways in advance of snow and ice storms. Brine is a mixture of salt and water, which is universally regarded as a more effective and less costly alternative to the use of rock salt in the treatment of icy roadways. The liquid ice melter is sprayed onto roadways by trucks that are equipped with fluid tanks, and the mixture can be made even more potent in the extreme cold by adding the juice of the venerable beet.
“I am eager to ‘beet’ the wrath of winter by employing the use of a brine system to treat icy roads,” said Santino. “This new initiative will be more thorough in melting ice, and it will save the town money in material and labor costs.”
Making the use of brine a more attractive alternative is the cost savings associated with it. Brine usage entails a 66-75 percent cost reduction factor over the use of rock salt. A conservative cost savings estimate could range as high as $290,000 during a substantial storm. What’s more, the fact that brine can be applied up to 48 hours prior to a storm will virtually eliminate the need to “pre-treat” roadways with salt using “overtime” hours. For example, a snowstorm occurring on a Saturday evening currently requires that the spreading of rock salt occur entirely on “overtime.” By contrast, the use of brine would make it possible for the town to apply brine on a Friday with the use of no “overtime.” In fact, the cost savings of applying brine without overtime has the potential to save up to $21,000 per storm.
The town’s brine system will create a mixture of approximately 80 percent water and 20 percent salt. Again, beet juice has been added to the mixture to “amp up” the formula. The system includes a mixing tank where the ingredients are blended and a holding tower where the brine is stored until it is dispensed into holding tanks on trucks equipped with brine sprayers. A computer system controls the mixture ratio, ensuring optimal results, and the system automatically refills the dispensing tower to keep pace with demand during heavy storms. The dispensing tower holds 5,000 gallons of brine. The system was supplied by Accubrine at a total cost of $90,000.
“The town’s brine system is an investment in safer roads during the winter,” commented Goosby. “I am looking forward to driving on streets that are less slick in the future.”
The Supervisor observed that the two primary benefits associated with the use of brine are reduced costs and increased effectiveness. The effectiveness of the salt water mixture is superior to rock salt usage due to two factors. First, the brine mixture adheres to roadways and is not easily dissipated. On the other hand, a portion of rock salt is scattered to the curbside as car tires toss the granules to the side of the road. Further, brine can be applied to roadways up to 48 hours in advance of a storm, immediately melting snow on all streets when the snowflakes begin to fall. Conversely, rock salt has to be applied once it starts to snow, meaning that the salt cannot start acting to melt snow on all roadways at the beginning of the storm.
“The town is going to be even more effective in melting snow and ice with its brine system,” said Hudes. “Being able to treat roadways early, before the snow starts to fall, will help local drivers tremendously.”
The town’s brine system will not immediately curtail the use of rock salt for roadway treatment as the administration gauges the effectiveness and efficiency of the program.
“I look forward to the town reviewing its new brine operation,” stated D’Esposito. “I am confident that we will see very positive results.”
“The use of a brine system is a ‘win-win’ scenario for motorists and taxpayers,” concluded Santino. “We will be clearing ice and snow from roads more quickly while saving taxpayers a substantial amount of money. Our new brine system will help us ‘beet’ the wrath of Mother Nature this winter.”