How Lincoln makes its DIY brine for keeping roads clear of ice

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Lincoln Transportation and Utilities Department has a special patented de-icing brine made with beet juice.

The department makes the mixture itself, and says it saves taxpayers up to $300,000 a year.

LTU applies the brine to around 1,200 lane miles of roads before a storm hits.

The concoction helps keep the snow and ice from bonding to the pavement.

Maintenance operations manager Tim Byrne said other cities use similar mixtures, but Lincoln has a unique strategy.

“We make a solution of brine that is temperature-dependent for the storm,” he said. “As the season goes on, temperatures fall, we utilize mixtures that have a little bit higher content of calcium chloride in it that will work at lower temperatures. When temperatures don’t need that earlier in the season, we utilize a higher concentration of sodium chloride.”

LTU uses pavement temperatures and freezing points to decide on the amount of chemicals to use in each batch of brine.

“It’s important for safety because it works quicker,” Byrne said. “It has a better response time and it allows us to provide safer traveling conditions for the public in a better time period.”

Byrne said the city uses around half a million gallons of brine each year.

While it’s necessary to use chlorides to keep the roads clear, large amounts can be harmful to the environment.

By making custom batches for each storm, LTU said it can reduce the amount of chloride put into the ground.

Byrne said that the department’s brine is innovative and that it plans to do more with it in the future, but he couldn’t say exactly what that is yet.

“We take a lot of pride in our program,” he said. “We know that the work we do provides safer traveling conditions for the public using the roadways.”

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