Temps prevent salt from working on roads

(WXYZ) - As temperatures plummet, the salt stops working on the roads.

Snowplow and salt truck operators are used to fighting through blizzard conditions and blustery winds.
But when temperatures get close to zero, there isn't much they can do.

"What's your biggest enemy on the road right now," asked 7 Action News Investigator Heather Catallo.
"Today, it's the wind and the cold, it's just freezing over, the salt's not working too good," said Dave Terry, who's been plowing Wayne County roads for 30 year

He says when it gets this cold, the salt just stops working.

Job Number one for road crews is to use plows to get as much sow as they can off the roads before the streets turn into ice rinks.

The one thing road crews in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb Counties can use during this arctic blast is brine.

"It's just liquid saltwater, naturally occurring saltwater, we simply pump it out of the ground and spray it on the roads, said Craig Bryson, Public Information Officer for the Oakland County Road Commission.

But even the brine doesn't work once the thermometer drops too low.

"We're going to salt and brine down to about zero or the low single digits.   After that it really is ineffective," said Bryson.

All three counties have been rolling out road crews 24/7 since Christmas.
Drivers are pulling 16-hour shifts with only short breaks to try to clear the streets.  But even with hundreds of trucks on the roads clearing all of the snow and ice in these frigid temperatures will take time.

Road Commissions in all three counties say it will take several days to clear out subdivisions. 

"We've hired contractors to help us out in subdivisions," said Bryson.  "We're getting in there as quickly as we can, but even so it'll take us a couple of days to get all the subs and we just thank everyone for their patience, and just please bear with us, we're doing everything we can to get to those subdivisions."

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