More sand, salt, and beet brine used on Bismarck roads than in past two years

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 6:02 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The quest to keep our roadways de-iced and safe to drive on is a constant challenge during a North Dakota winter. This year, Bismarck’s road and street department says a mix of freezing temperatures and warm days has made it even more difficult.

As city trucks drive down the streets, residents are glad to see them.

“I think Bismarck has been doing a good job getting out. There are always slow times, like getting through the alley behind my store. But they got to that, so we don’t have to worry about falling down anymore,” said Bismarck resident Brian Peterson.

“We had some rain and ice. I think the city, whoever is taking care of our roads, is doing a really good job,” said Bismarck resident Kerry Uhrich.

They’re sanding, salting, and using a unique substance found in giant vats at Public Works. A brine is a substance made from sugar beet byproducts and saltwater to be applied to the roads.

“Kinda take it like putting butter into a frying pan, so eggs don’t stick to it. That’s what it does for freezing rain and snow,” said Keith Glass, City of Bismarck roads and streets supervisor.

The product helps sand and salt stick to the roads and helps cut down on the use of salt.

“With the Missouri River right in our backyard that everyone enjoys, we try not to use so much of the corrosive salts as possible,” said Glass.

The weather this year has given city workers a lot more asphalt to treat.

“When you have two rain events in December and January it doesn’t help. It’s the temperature fluctuation. If it stayed cold we wouldn’t have a problem. Our roads would stay clear. But this freezing rain that we had twice now in a couple of weeks, and then a drop in cold temperatures that night, we get a mess in some of the residential areas,” said Glass.

So far this year, the city has used nearly 38,000 gallons of beet brine, more than 17,000 gallons of salt brine, 190 tons of salt, and more than 2,300 tons of sand on city roads. That’s more than the previous two years.

The sand and beet brine are local. The salt comes from Saskatchewan.

Some areas in New Jersey also use beet juice, while areas in Wisconsin use cheese brine and some in Minnesota use pickle brine to de-ice roadways.

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