Brine brings clear roads to Tahoe

STATELINE - With its snow removal practices, Nevada has managed to make California's plowing of its portion of U.S. Highway 50 look years behind schedule, some say.

In the past a split-screen picture of Highway 50 through the Stateline corridor shows the Nevada side is clear and drivable while California's portion still has snow piled high in he center lane and slush in the through lanes.

What's the difference between the neighboring states' snow removal systems?

Five years ago, the Nevada Department of Transportation equipped its snow trucks with tanks that mix a liquid salt solution and began treating winter roads with it. The new treatment has increased driver mobility in Nevada and reduced the amount of chemicals that could seep into Lake Tahoe.

In 1999-2000 the California Department of Transportation followed Nevada's lead and implemented the system. "So far it is working well," Mark Dinger, CalTrans assistant public information officer said. There has been a 20 percent decrease in CalTrans salt use since the system went into place.

Nevada had participated in national snow removal studies since 1991 and eventually imported the salt brine system from European countries who have been using it successfully for years.

The state paired the trucks that apply the liquid salt solution system with a series of weather reporting stations all over Nevada that measure atmospheric and pavement sensors.

The pavement sensors report the temperature of the pavement, whether it is wet or dry, how much chemical solution is currently on the road and forecasts when it will freeze. They tell state workers whether they need to apply another layer of liquid to the highway.

"When the time is propitious, tank trucks spread the brine and you have no idea how well it works," said Ed Wilson who works for Nevada as a customer service representative.

"As soon as the sun hits the surface, the sun interacts with the chemicals and melts the snow," Wilson said.

Snow removal trucks then go about their jobs as normal, but the solution lessens accumulation and makes it easier for trucks to remove the snow.

"It used to be that snow and ice would be caked to the road all winter long,"


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