Cedar Rapids has joined a growing list of Iowa cities that have purchased brine-making machines to fight snow and ice on roads. Cedar Rapids Public Works employee Steve Thompson says the swampy-looking mixture is simply a combination of salt and water, but the machine makes sure they have the right amount of each ingredient.
"If you get this down first, it will prevent the ice from bonding to the cement, so it’ll be easier to get off," Thompson said. The machine can make 8,000 gallons of brine in just four hours. That’s enough to coat all the bridges, hills and other trouble spots in Cedar Rapids. The machines cost around $9,000, but Cedar Rapids Public Works manager Craig Hanson says they can save cities both time and money in the future.
"We can respond with it faster, quicker, more effectively and efficiently," Hanson said. Cities and towns that don’t have their own brine-making machines still spray the salt and water mixture on streets, but usually rely on the Department of Transportation to produce the brine. Cities with their own machines have easier access and can potentially use a lot more brine on the roads. Dennis Burkheimer, the D.OT’s winter operations director, says the agency built it’s first brine-making machines around 15 years ago, using old livestock tanks.