Salt becoming ineffective in cold

WICHITA, Kansas — Most kids around Kansas are finally going back to school tomorrow, including those here in Wichita.

But city crews are still hard at work trying to manage slick roads.

The 9 inches of snow that fell on parts of the city Tuesday and the single digit temperatures we’ve seen the last two days have made the roads still very treacherous.

Salt is running low but it may not help too much right now.

“We’re in uncharted territories in terms of facing this combination of events,” said Joe Pajor, Wichita Public Works Department.

A combination making it hard on city workers to clear snow-packed and icy roads throughout Wichita.

“So we will be probably developing an initial strategy and testing it out, go out and spread material and see how effective it is and then optimize our treatment for the rest of the network,” said Pajor.

Public works crews completed sand treatments on the secondary snow routes this afternoon and will gradually be transitioning back to applying sand on the primary routes.

To give drivers additional traction on these roads, they say sand is their best option for now.

“Below 25, the salt starts diminishing in its effectiveness and the problem with refreeze becomes more of an issue,” said Pajor.

“The city says salting these roads in these temperatures would be largely ineffective. So we put that to the test. Here’s a tray of snow, and a can of salt. Now let’s see if the salt melts the snow,” said Pajor.

Early on, the salt starts melting the snow but as night falls it’s far less effective.

Even then, the city is still having trouble getting it in from their main supplier, The Hutchinson Salt Company, because of the perilous conditions on K-96.

“I don’t know that the word crisis in terms of the supply is really fair because it’s in the context of the temperatures that we’re experiencing right now,” said Pajor.

In a KSN experiment, Felix Rodrigues Lima filled a tray of snow and topped in with salt but the salt was ineffective for the most part, a result authorities are also seeing on the streets of Wichita.

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