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How Iowa crews pre-treat roads in subzero temperatures

Crews could have trouble pre-treating the roads for more snow due to the below zero temperatures.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 9:02 AM CST
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(WOI) - Road crews in Iowa could have trouble pre-treating the roads for more snow due to below zero temperatures.

When temperatures drop below 15 degrees, salt starts to lose its effectiveness. Then, when the temp goes below zero, it’s pretty much useless.

To combat this issue, Des Moines Public Works says many crews have to get creative.

“We start adding chemicals to it,” said Jonathan Gano, director of Des Moines Public Works. “Either calcium chloride or a derivative product made from beet juice.”

The Iowa Department of Transportation uses a different approach.

“We’ll shift to a what we call a 50/50 mix, which is a mixture of salt and sand,” said Craig Bargfrede, the winter operations administrator for Iowa DOT.

Gano said the most difficult situation crews face is when an arctic air mass hits just after temperatures have risen above freezing. That causes the slush left behind to turn to ice. But Gano said crews have some equipment suited to responding to that situation.

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