Battling icy roads in Jefferson County

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Transportation workers enter another night of work on local roads and bridges after a very long couple of days.

The potential for icy conditions on interstates and highways is being met head on by crews spreading salt, sand and potentially other products in an effort to keep streets from freezing.

ALDOT Division 3 Engineer Brian Davis said the weather is the predictor of their next step, but with fluctuating forecasts, limited manpower the current scarcity of salt-  they have to step carefully. Especially if there’s more on the way over the next couple of days-

They sprayed salt brine on bridges and the two outside interstate lanes on all the interstates that run through Jefferson County

The solution lowers the freezing point of water on road surfaces, but if we get enough rain it could be washed away.

No matter what happens the roads are so saturated they expect some to bleed out overnight and if temperatures drops below freezing that could create problem spots.

If there’s a big freeze coupled with more precipitation they have all hands on deck standing by.

Davis says their goal was to bring ALDOT road crews in to rest around 11 am and refill trucks.

Chief engineer Brian Davis says they have different tools at their disposal- but some only work in certain conditions.

The list includes salt, salt brine, and CMA not to mention sand and other gritty substances to increase traction.

“CMA is a product that when you put it down on a wet road it reacts with the water and it builds up heat for about 4 or 5 hours,” explained Davis. “So we use CMA, we use sand at times, we use a ground up limestone rock it’s called #8910. At times when you need to increase the surface friction we use calcium chloride. So we use a lot of different products and the whole trick to it if there is a trick to it is watching the forecast  and deciding am I going to get sleet, or snow, or rain, or ice and how much and you have to know all that to decide which one of those products to put down. So for us today it’s watching the forecast and deciding  what to start doing today and at what time to do it, how many people to bring in tonight, we’ll definitely have crews come in.”

“We’re watching not only the Wednesday event, but we’re also looking out a little further on Thursday,” said Davis. “So we’re trying to pace our crews. There’s only so many hours we can keep them out without getting them hurt getting them so fatigued that they can’t work in a safe manner. But we’re also trying to guard the limited product that we have. Everybody in the country’s trying to get salt and we’re one of those. And we don’t need it near as bad as they need it in Illinois and Ohio and other states like that. So we have to be mindful that a state like Alabama that doesn’t buy a tremendous tonnage of salt, we’re kind of low down on the food chain in terms of getting supplied with salt. Fortunately we  had a load come in last night at eight. We have three loads that are trying to come in today if we can just get them down here from Nashville. But naturally the weather north of us is kind of precluding that so we’re hoping to get them in here late this afternoon.”


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