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Liquid de-icer is applied to the roadway in order to lower the freezing temperature of water and to prevent ice and snow from forming a bond to the roadway surface. The type of de-icer Oregon City is using is called Magnesium Chloride. This product is currently in use by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Clackamas County, and the Cities of West Linn, Happy Valley, and Canby as well as many other jurisdictions in Oregon and Washington. ODOT has been safely using this product for over 10 years.
This product contains 70% water, magnesium chloride, and a corrosion inhibitor to reduce impacts to vehicles. This product can cause corrosion if equipment is exposed for an extended period; however, it is highly water-soluble and a quick rinse will dilute and clean vehicles easily. This product works well at cold temperatures, is inexpensive and is safer on the environment than traditional methods.
Winter de-icer can be used in several ways including:
Areas targeted for de-icer will focus first on arterial streets (Molalla Avenue, Meyers Road, South End Road, etc.), then collector streets (Main Street, Partlow Road, Clairmont Way, etc.), then steeper residential streets. Snow and ice response seldom target residential streets unless the event lasts over an extended period of time (1 week).
One advantage of de-icer is that liquid de-icer can be applied to the roadway a few hours before a severe weather event occurs, which prevents ice crystals from bonding to the pavement. As pavement is kept from freezing, crews can keep key streets ready for traffic rather than responding after Oregon City's road conditions have become dangerous for motorists.
De-icer may also be applied in conjunction with sand under some conditions. The application of de-icer on snow or ice with significant accumulation helps keep the snow loose and "plowable" so it can be removed more easily. The City will use a variety of treatments and techniques to control snow and ice at different times and places throughout Oregon City. A great advantage is that liquid de-icer will help to improve conditions over sanding alone.
Another advantage is that many other jurisdictions that use winter de-icer have had reductions in wintertime vehicle crashes. Additionally, the de-icing product can be less expensive than sanding and is expected to reduce the amount of time spent plowing, sanding, and cleaning up sand after storm events.
Typically our crews respond when we are reasonably sure that freezing conditions or snow accumulation is likely. Depending upon the forecast and other reports, our crews may apply de-icer in a pre-emptive manner to lessen the impact on drivers, or respond as needed as the cold weather event unfolds. Typically we begin to plow snow as it accumulates to 1 inch or above.
The City has insufficient resources to enable the removal of driveway berms that are created when crews clear the street. Our main objective is to make the majority of our streets passable and safe for motorists.
In some rare cases when our de-icer may not be as effective as we would like. If this happens, our crews apply sand on steep hills, corners and intersections as an additional measure to improve traction. However, due to the environmental concerns and the fact that sand typically is blown off or worn off these areas easily, we typically keep sand application at a minimum.
If needed, Oregon City Public Works will also plow snow and in some cases, close steeper streets when there are safety concerns. Remember, even the best preventive measures don't eliminate risk. It is always up to motorists to drive at speeds appropriate for the road and weather conditions.