Beets are not only healthy to eat, but research proves they now can keep you safer on the roads as well. The Wyoming Department of Transportation began using an anti-icing product made from sugar beets to help keep the roads clear in the Sheridan and Buffalo area in 2011 and now are using the product in the entire northeast corner of Wyoming.
Beet juice is a natural product that works well when mixed with liquid salt brine to keep ice from forming on the roads before a storm. It also helps melt snow and ice once they are already on the road.
This is a pro-active approach to winter road maintenance. The beet juice combined with liquid salt brine forms a bond-prohibitive barrier between the pavement surface and the impending snow and ice.
“Think of it as a non-stick coating for the road!” said WYDOT District Four Public Involvement Specialist Ronda Holwell. Holwell added “the usage for brine is twofold. Adding brine when applying sanding material helps sand to stick to the roadway in the vehicle travel way, increasing friction for tire traction. Secondly, when applying brine directly to snow pack, it helps cut the ice quicker and re-establishes the highway surface to a “black” condition.” Additionally, with less abrasives required on the road, improved air quality and fewer additional environmental impacts can be expected. It also can be used at lower temperatures than just salt brine alone so it can be used when the weather is colder – even at temperatures closer to zero. The mixture reduces the corrosive properties of salt and improves its effectiveness.
The sugar beet juice is brown in color. This liquid is a by-product of sugar production. The liquid is an organic product and has a distinctive odor comparable to silage. It is applied in a liquid application. The application is 70% liquid salt brine and 30% beet juice. The Brine WYDOT produces and uses 23% salt in solution. WYDOT operates a brine production plant in Sheridan and mixes salt brine with beet juice in storage tanks at that location. The mixture is transported to storage tanks in Buffalo for use there.
In Sheridan County WYDOT is mainly using this product in urban areas such as the towns of Dayton, Ranchester, Big Horn, Story and the Sheridan Fringe to prevent ice and snow build up. It is also utilized on all roads in the Sheridan area that have built up ice or snow pack. In the Buffalo area salt brine and beet juice are used in the urban areas in and around town and on areas of ice pack on surrounding roads.
When ice and snow builds up on the road it can costs WYDOT lots of money to remove so this is a way to save overall snow removal costs.
“Although WYDOT is constantly looking for more efficient way to clear the road, and our crews are out there working hard to keep them clear, it is also the motorists job to drive cautiously, pay extra attention to signs and drive defensively,” Holwell said. “Remember to give snowplows plenty of room to work, don’t tailgate and try not to pass.”
Also before you travel remember to get current road conditions at www.wyoroad.info or by calling 1-888-WYO-ROAD or simply dialing 511 from your cellular phone.