ADOT prepares for snow removal in High Country;
crashes were reduced last year
A reduction in highway crashes during snow storms in the High Country last winter has prompted the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to be ready to use snow-melting mixtures again this winter in the Flagstaff and White Mountain areas.
Anti-icing and deicing agents help snow turn to slush faster, increasing snow plowing efficiency and range; reducing economic losses and making response time faster for those crashes that do occur.
In the Flagstaff area, where the Snow Bowl beckons skiers from the Valley, ADOT's Flagstaff District will use the decier "Ice Slicer" as its primary weapon against slick snow packs. "Ice Slicer," a reddish mixture of sodium chloride (salt), three other major chlorides and trace agents, will be applied at the onset of a storm to pavement in the Flagstaff, Williams and Grand Canyon areas, according to Maintenance Engineer Kent Link.
"Ice Slicer" is activated by moisture and prevents snow pack from bonding to the pavement, Link said.
He noted that "Ice Slicer" became the primary snow removal aid last winter and crashes dropped 38 percent in the first quarter of 2001 compared to the same period in 2000. Significantly more snow fell in the Flagstaff area during the first quarter of 2001 than the previous year, making the reduction more remarkable, he added.
"Ice Slicer" will be utilized on all routes in the Flagstaff District, including I-40 and I-17. For the first time, "Ice Slicer" also will be used on state highway segments in the Flagstaff city limits.
Link said ADOT also will continue to use liquid Magnesium Chloride (Mag-Chloride for short) as an anti-icing agent on bridge decks and hills prior to snow storms to prevent ice from forming on areas that tend to become slick fast.
"By utilizing Magnesium Chloride and Ice Slicer in lieu of straight white salt, potential vehicle corrosion should be reduced 70 percent," Link said. "It is still advisable to wash the undercarriage of a vehicle following travel on roadways using any type of deicing agent."
Over in the White Mountains where the Sunrise Ski Resort also attracts skiers from the Valley, a little different stategy will be used. Maintenance Superintendent Joel Miller of ADOT's Globe District said Mag-Chloride will be the primary anti-icing agent following successful testing last winter.
Ice Slicer will be tested in the White Mountains this year, Miller said.
Liquid Mag-Chloride will be applied before snow storms on bridge decks, shady areas and other trouble spots, as well as in residential and commercial areas, to prevent ice from bonding to the pavement.
Miller said liquid and dry Mag-Chloride also will be mixed with cinders to provide traction for motorists while also keeping snow pack from becoming icy, making plowing much easier.
The exact strategy will depend on whether the storm is "cold" or "warm" he said. Liquid Mag-Chloride won't be applied in "warm" storms because the higher temperatures prevent ice from forming. Plows, helped by sunlight and cinders, can do the job without deicing agents, he added.
"Cold" storms are different. Liquid Mag-Chloride will be applied as pre-treatment to keep ice from developing, Miller said. Dry Mag-Chloride will be mixed with cinders to provide traction on snow pack while at the same time helping melt the snow.
"Our goal is to have black pavement within 48 hours after a storm event," he said.