Have you asked yourself the question, "The sun is shining and with no snow in the forecast why are ODOT trucks applying salt brine?"
Brine has fast become a very important weapon in the fight against snow and ice. Brine is simply salt and water mixed and blended together by specific machines. Using brine prevents icing on bridges and is the most effective weapon in ODOT's arsenal against this problem.
The reason that motorists see signs near bridges that say "Bridge ices before roadway" is that the undersides of bridges are not insulated.
Thus cold air can change the surface temperature of a bridge more quickly than a section of roadway that has dirt underneath it. Black ice or frost occurs when the bridges surface temperature drops below freezing.
As a result, a bridge could potentially have a thin layer of black ice or frost on it that the motorist cannot see.
District 4 uses the latest in pavement sensor technology to predict winter road conditions and frost. Twenty Road Weather Information Sensors stations across six counties continually monitor pavement conditions and when combined with information supplied by contracted meteorologists who analyze data from 180 RWIS stations statewide; it is possible to predict freezing conditions along with pavement sensitive forecasts.
ODOT crews pretreat bridges when the threat of icing is forecast by spraying brine on a bridge's surface. Motorists can see this by the white lines across the pavement.
"Any time the temperature drops below 32 degrees whether snow is in the forecast or not my crews are pre-treating bridges to prevent black ice and frost," said Al Moore, Ashtabula County Manager.
Brine also helps to prevent snow from bonding to the roadway surface and "packing down" thus creating an icy surface. This packed down snow is called "hard pack" and is a safety and economic concern because it can take ten times more salt to break up once it has formed.
"The main reason we use brine is to make the roads safer for the motoring public by utilizing pre-treating methods," said Mark Griffiths, Stark County Manager. "Brine gives our winter maintenance crews the advantage when fighting a storm."