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#AsktheCity: Pre-treating city streets before a winter storm

Updated: 09/11/2018

We know you have questions about city services. We hear them in the community and read them on social media. Unfortunately, we cannot always respond to each individually.

We hope to use the City Blog to better address your questions and clear up any confusion.

Have a question for us? Submit your question or ask us on our Facebook page

Q: How does the city decide whether to pretreat roads during inclement weather? Does this produce a cost savings over the typical process of salting and plowing? 

First, most of the anti-icing brine you see in Shakopee is on the county roads, applied by Scott County. The county also assists the city and applies anti-icing to a few of or our bridge decks. The city applies only a very small amount in a few strategic locations (city hall/police department parking lots and at the Community Center) and a few other isolated test locations around the city. The city does not currently have the capabilities of applying anti-icing at a large scale on our network of roadways. 

In advance of this past anticipated storm, the city only applied about 150 gallons of salt brine. The amount of rock salt used to make the 150 gallons of brine is less than a ¼ ton of rock salt – this is a very small amount of salt that is applied versus spreading actual rock salt on the roadways. Anti-icing is applied in advance of a predicted storm, trying to keep the lead time down to within 24 hours but can be longer. Anti-icing can significantly reduce the amounts of the expensive rock salt that is used for deicing and also performs better in some scenarios, reducing the amount of hardpack snow buildup and reducing the deicing time. It has been shown that anti-icing is cost-effective with the understanding that we are at the mercy of weather predictions versus actual snow/ice events. 

As the weather went recently, the storm did not develop as predicted. The cost of anti-icing versus spreading rock salt over the long run, even with a few weather prediction miscues, is very cost effective. The city will be looking deeper into anti-icing and pre-wetting of rock salt in the near future to help reduce cost, improve performance and also reduce the amount of chloride that then runs into and impairs our streams and lakes. 

  1. Updated: 09/11/2018
  2. Updated: 12/28/2017