Winter Snow and Ice Operator’s Workshop readies workers for wintry blast

Digital Originals

EAST PEORIA, Ill — It’s only the end of October and Central Illinois is bracing for the first winter storm of the season.

Tazewell County Highway Department officials are making sure crews are ready for the worst.

The 2019 Winter Snow and Ice Operator’s Workshop in East Peoria provided road crews the chance to calibrate salt trucks and learn the importance of the equipment.

“We have to supply safe and reliable roads for the traveling public, for freight, for everyone for those emergency vehicles that are out there. At the same time, what we use in winter maintenance in order to achieve our goals are de-icing chemicals,” said Mark Devries, solutions manager with Vaisala Inc.

Those chemicals will have an impact on the environment. Mark Devries is the solutions manager with Vaisala Incorporated and explains how the mixture can fail.

“We talk about how chemicals work, and what we are really looking at there is, there are times every chemical has a limit on what it can do, and there are times that our pavement temperatures get so cold that they can be, literally not work at all,” said Devries.

There’s a good chance that if road temperatures are 15 degrees or colder, the salt brine mixture will be useless. And because every storm is different, Devries says the road treatment needs to be formulated for the job.

“That same storm in February is going to require quite a bit of materials, so you need to change and adjust based on that,” said Devries.

“We talk about implementing best practices, things that they can do to actually reduce their overall chemical usage but achieve the same levels of service that they are trying to do,” said Devries.

Devries says the goal is getting workers ready to crank the key and hit the roads.

“What we don’t want is to hand them the keys and say we’ll see you in ten hours and let them do whatever they want. We want to train them, we want them to be knowledgeable in what they are doing and why they are doing it, and what they are trying to achieve,” said Devries.

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