You may use a pinch or two of salt in your Thanksgiving recipes, but the man who cooks up the plan for winter roadway treatment uses much larger quantities. Dennis Burkheimer is in charge of the winter operations for the Iowa Department of Transportation.and says they have 180-thousand tons of salt on hand and they also have 40-thousand tons of sand. Burkheimer says they have contracts in place to replace the salt as needed. He says the 180-thousand tons on hand is about what they’d use in an average year and that leads to a pretty good bill. He says it costs about seven million dollars for the materials. He says the entire snow and ice operation for a typical winter is 35-million dollars — and that can vary depending on the severity of the winter. Burkheimer says they’ve started in recent years using a salt broth of sorts to treat roadways.He says it’s a solution of 23-percent salt and the rest water — no specially charged salt or anything like that. He says the saltwater mixture is put down to try and prevent frost and to try and keep the first snowfall from bonding to the pavement. He says the water solution sticks better to the roadway when it’s not windy. Burheimer says the saltwater does stretch out the salt supply a little more too. He says the saltwater would include about 110 pounds of salt per mile of roadway. Salt is the main snow and ice fighter, but Burkenheimer says they throw in an occasional dash of sand, too. He says they only use about 20-thousand tons of sand where many years ago they used to use about 180-thousand tons of sand. But he says the sand doesn’t melt anything, so they use more salt now than sand. Burkheimer says the D-O-T’s plows and salt trucks were ready to go already in October to handle any snow and ice that winter brings.
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