This year, the North Texas Tollway Authority is introducing a new solution to prevent freezing on roads.
They’re using brine, a specific combination of salt and water, to pretreat bridges and overpasses before a weather event.
Brining, which the Texas Department of of Transportation has already introduced to its routine, is relatively new to North Texas, but has been a common practice in northern states for years.
“It’s another tool in our toolbox,” said Eric Hemphill, the NTTA’s director of maintenance. “Every year, we say – 'what can we do better?'”
The brine, which is water saturated with salt, has a lower freezing point than water.
NTTA crews will pretreat troublesome bridges and overpasses with brine, with the hope that it’ll keep ice from sticking.
Hemphill compares it to greasing a baking sheet.
“If you’re making cookies and you throw them in the oven and try to pry them off, you can’t pry those cookies off very well,” he said. “But a little thin treatment of cooking spray, they usually slide right off without any issue. That’s what we’re trying to get – to keep the ice from bonding to the concrete.”
The NTTA is still planning on using all of its other conventional weather preparation tools, like sand, plows and trucks.