Icy roads no match for Belvoir's brine treatment - Water and salt solution saves money
January 26, 2012
With forecasters calling for snow and ice to begin accumulating at midnight last Friday, the Fort Belvoir Installation Support Services team went into action to combat the probability of build up.
Typically, as snow and ice begin to accrue, road and walkways are treated with salt and then plows and shovels move buildup out of the way. But now, the first step in preventative measures that later aids in clean up is brine, a solution made solely of water and salt.
This mixture is a pre-treatment to ensure snow and ice don't form a bond with road and walkway surfaces, said Terri Gulan, the ISS Roads and Grounds Manager.
Virginia and its communities have been using this salt solution on roadways for the past few years. And while this is the first time Belvoir is implementing the use of brine, ISS has worked on ways to not only apply brine to roadways but also to sidewalks and stairs -- using Gators and hand-pumps.
One 1,000-gallon truck coated the main roads on post, including emergency routes, while a smaller vehicle sprayed major curves and sidewalks. In total the two-man crew sprayed seven tons of Brine over 130 miles of pavement, which included Fort Belvoir North Area.
What's most effective about brine is that it can be laid up to 72-hours before a snow or ice storm and aids in post-storm cleanup. Since the solution reduces the likelihood of accumulation, there is less salt needed to breakdown build up and less compacted on roadways.
"Our goal is to save the government money," Mike Johnson, the deputy project manager of ISS said, adding that the average cost for a standard snow clearing operation is $100,000 -- where the snowfall measures 4 to 6 inches -- and nearly $300,000 per winter season. "On average, it takes about three days to complete the cleanup from start to finish. This was not a regular snow storm. It was mostly ice (so) no plowing or clearing was involved."
The AccuBrine® computer and pump system used to measure and mix the salt solution cost $70,000. The ISS team estimates that in one year's time the system will pay for itself. Overall, the seven gallons worth of Brine used Friday breaks down to 4,880 gallons total or 36.5 gallons of Brine per mile at a cost of just $350. However, according to Johnson, if they had pre-treated with a sand and salt mixture they would have needed 80 to 100 tons at a cost of nearly $4,000.
"The biggest thing is that (brine) helps to get everyone home and to work safely," said Paul Gillispie, ISS Project Manager.