City of Milwaukee now mixing sand with rock salt

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works began mixing sand with rock salt on Friday, January 31st in an effort to extend the life of its remaining salt inventory.

The salt/sand mixture will be used on some residential streets during the next salting operation. Main arterials will continue to be treated with rock salt and liquid calcium chloride.

"Everything will still be treated. The main arterials will be treated with straight salt. Residential areas, where there's traditionally a lower driving speed, those are the streets that'll be treated with a sand-salt mixture," explained Wanda Booker, Milwaukee's Sanitation Services manager.

DPW officials will monitor the results of this implementation and will adjust practices as road conditions warrant. With January's significant snowfall continuing into February, Booker says the mixture will help extend short salt supplies.

"They will notice a difference, initially, because we'll allow the snow to accumulate on the residential streets and then go behind and plow first, without salt, and then lay a sand-salt mixture afterwards," Booker said.

Since November 11, 2013, DPW crews have spread the roughly 62,000 tons of salt on City streets, bridges and sidewalks. The DPW has approximately 25,000 tons of salt left on contract to be delivered from the City’s salt supplier.

"Not worried, but concerned and planning based on us having another 30 operations from now through the end of the season," said Booker.

The City, Booker said, it not using any cheese brine in its snow clearing operations since temperatures have been too cold to safely apply salt water on the roads.

Milwaukee isn't the only area making a change in its salting practices, Racine County has also made the switch from salt to a sand-salt mixture.