Calgary roads: salt doesn’t work in extreme cold

Calgary drivers sick of the slick and slippery road conditions may have to wait a bit longer before they improve.

The City of Calgary’s roads department has a seven-day snow and ice control program it activates when snow falls. Crews are plowing and putting down a sand-salt mixture called “pickle” to help with traction.

Speaking to Global Calgary on Tuesday, Tara Norton-Merrin with the City of Calgary Roads Department said plows and sanders have been on the roads since Monday.

“We’ve made pretty good progress on the main roads, specifically on the through-lanes,” Norton-Merrin said. “But the bridge decks and the ramps are super icy still.”

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“Normally we would use a lot of salt as well as gravel, and when the sun comes out [it] would activate that salt and really help with the melting. In these conditions that’s really not an option,” Norton-Merrin said.

“What we’re seeing is we can put a lot of sanding chips down, traffic will drive through there and those things will just bounce off and go to the side of the road. So it’s really about going over and over those intersections again and again to try to help with traction.”

As part of the city’s seven-day snow and ice control plan, crews start to plow, salt and sand so-called Priority 1 routes (roads with traffic volumes exceeding 20,000 a day) such as Crowchild Trail and Macleod Trail once snow has stopped falling.

Once Priority 1 routes are completed, crews focus on Priority 2 routes (roads which carry 5,000 to 19,999 vehicles a day) like Kensington Road and Acadia Drive.

Crews then turn to clearing Priority 3 and 4 routes, which includes residential areas, school and playground zones.

However, if snow falls, the process then begins again at beginning – and more snowfall is expected on Tuesday afternoon.

Police said 418 crashes were reported between 7 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 11 and 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

A snow route parking ban is not in place.

For more information on the city’s snow and ice clearing plan, visit the City of Calgary’s website.

– With files from Jill Croteau

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