Alcoa builds brine facility to clear roads faster, save money
By Iva Butler | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Alcoa has a new tool in its arsenal to battle snow and ice on city streets — a brine facility.
The $32,000 used to build the facility beside the salt shed came from state street aid funds and was built using city crews at the Alcoa Service Center, said Alcoa Director of Public Works Kenny Wiggins.
Designed by city engineer Scott Carroll, the facility is 12.5 feet by 20 feet, or about the size of a two-car garage, said Alcoa Street Services Supervisor James Trusty,
Equipment from VariTech Industries Inc. will mix the salt with water to make the brine.
The salt will be added by a front end loader and water will flow from the bottom up, mixing with the salt and dumping it into the front of the mixer where employees will then measure the solution mix.
The best mix is 23- to 24-percent salt that will keep snow and ice from freezing on the road.
“An old line (bucket) truck from the electric department will be used to spread the brine,” Trusty said.
A 1,000-gallon tank has been attached to the back of the truck. Two pipes run down to another horizontal pipe, which runs the width of the truck, and has holes in it through which the brine will run onto the road.
The first agencies to use brine on the roads in this area were Tennessee Department of Transportation and Knoxville and Sevierville, Wiggins said.
“Like a lot of folks, we saw TDOT and the city of Knoxville and other folks doing this and thought that’s a waste of money,” Wiggins said.
It turns out that it’s a more effective use of salt, he said.
Salt last year cost the city of Alcoa $83 a ton. Due to the mild winter, only eight tons were used.
However, 2010, was a bad winter and salt use totaled 270 tons, comparable to 2009 when 250 tons were used.
City of Knoxville Public Service Dept. Deputy Director David Brace said that two winters ago they saved enough to pay for their facility, which is a little bigger but comparable to ours, Wiggins said.
The input of Brace and Sevierville Public Works Director Bryan Fortner was critical for development of the brine facility, he added.
The main purpose of using brine is to make sure the snow and ice does not bond to the road but melt it from the bottom up.