Late in the afternoon or early evening, when freezing is expected, Issaquah city trucks travel selected routes to apply deicing material to the roadways.
Have you ever noticed the material on a street you’re traveling? It’s easy to see because it is laid down in wet stripes running parallel to the curbs.
“What is it?”, I wondered.
We took some time to speak with Autumn Monahan, Communications Manager at the City of Issaquah.
According to Autumn, the City of Issaquah uses calcium chloride in a water solution. Calcium chloride is a salt with different characteristics from ordinary table salt (sodium chloride). An anti-corrosion agent is also included to lessen damage to the roads. It’s applied in streams to the roadway.
Primarily, its purpose is to stop ice from forming on the road surface. This calcium salt solution combines well with water on the road and reduces the freezing point of the solution to well below zero.
Unlike rock salt, you don’t see the solid salt, just the liquid. The dark brown liquid has a molasses-like odor. The roadway dries with no evidence of the earlier deicing application.
When it snows, the city removes the snow with snow plows and applies sand. Because the calcium chloride solution is already on the roadway, the remaining snow remains slush rather than icing.
The City of Issaquah has seven snow plows. When snow is expected, the plows are distributed throughout the city to ensure that they can be quickly accessed where they are needed.
The crews from Public Works operations normally spend their time working on water and sewer systems owned by the city. When cold weather hits, they become deicers. When snow hits, they become snow removal crews.
With snow removal, the crews work in 12 hour shifts around the clock.
Their snow removal work is organized in three priorities. Priority 1 street sections are the main thoroughfares while priority 3 streets are the local neighborhood streets. A map is available that distinguishes one priority from the other. When it snows, use that map to plan your travel routes.
The city also has traffic cams that will permit you to monitor the progress of snow removal and traffic issues.
The City of Issaquah maintains a web page for weather matters. It covers forecasts, garbage removal, towed vehicles and bus information.