Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

January 8, 2014

Roads may improve today

Brutal temps mean road salt is ineffective

With horrendous driving conditions stretching into a third day Tuesday, it was understandable that cabin-crazy residents are hoping for improved road conditions.

Howard County Highway Superintendent Ted Cain said it won’t happen overnight.

“The state of the state roads and city streets right now, that’s what our county roads are going to look like for a long time,” Cain said Tuesday afternoon.

Drivers faced slick, rutted, hard-packed snow on most road surfaces Tuesday, with salt unable to work, even when laced with magnesium chloride.

“Until we get above freezing temperatures, they’re going to be a little snow packed,” Cain said. “We just can’t salt everything.”

State officials said they can use enhancers like magnesium chloride and “Beet Heet,” a product made from beet juice, to lower the effective temperature that salt works at down to zero degrees, but temperatures didn’t make it above zero until around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“[Wednesday] is going to help a lot,” Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Harry Maginity said. “When the sun’s out and the wind quits blowing, we can get a lot done.”

INDOT officials are hoping the salt put down just before and during Sunday’s epic snowstorm will have formed a slushy brine underneath the current snow pack, making it easier to peel off the packed snow and ice once temperatures allow it.

But with temperatures expected to remain in single digits overnight Tuesday into today, INDOT crews weren’t going to do much other than push back any encroaching drifts overnight.

“We’re going to hit it hard [Wednesday] prior to sunup,” Maginity said. “Our equipment right now is being put to the test. It’s a combination of cold and workload on our crews.”

Cain said the county roads will likely remain snow packed for some time, mainly because on many of the roads there’s not enough traffic for salt to work properly.

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