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Salting Streets

The most common operation is a general ice control (GIC) when 90 salt trucks are deployed citywide to salt city streets to prevent ice from bonding to the pavement. Most of our salt trucks are equipped with underbody plow blades that can scrape small accumulations of snow from the pavement before salt is applied.

Streets are prioritized for salting (and plowing) based on traffic volume, public transportation routes and access routes to emergency service and schools. Residential streets are salted after arterial streets have been completed.

The city follows a sensible salting policy where salt is applied only where needed and in amounts appropriate for conditions. Salt may be applied only to the main streets, or only to bridges, hill stops, major intersections or slippery spots. Salt application rates are reduced on side streets that have slower travel speeds.

Truck mounted salt spreaders adjust the salt spread rate based on changes in the truck speed. This makes it possible to apply salt uniformly in urban stop and go traffic. We also mix liquid calcium chloride to road salt when temperatures drop below 24 degrees to help make salt more effective.

Abrasives like sand are often used in rural areas and smaller communities. Heavy urban traffic quickly pounds down and bonds untreated snow into hard pack that is extremely difficult to remove. It takes four to seven truckloads of sand to treat the same number of lane miles as one truckload of salt. Additionally, sand builds up in catch basins and sewers, requiring expensive spring clean up efforts.