Wichita ready to treat streets this weekend

Salt Truck (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas — City of Wichita crews have been applying a salt solution known as brine to city streets since Wednesday in anticipation of a weekend winter storm. Snow is in the forecast through Sunday.

Brine pre-treatment fights precipitation accumulation on roads.

KSN’s Brittany Glas got to experience that preparation first hand Friday afternoon, when she rode along while public works employees sprayed the last of the day’s brine on city streets.

The trucks are out putting brine on the streets to ensure they’re cleared up for this weekend and city officials said they are ready for the possible accumulation.

Curtis Fisher is the man behind the brine in Wichita. He’s been brining city streets every winter the past 23 years. On a full winter day, Fisher says he drives, brining streets, on average, 150 to 200 miles.

Salt/Sand Supply
This year, the city has over 16,000 tons of salt/sand mix. (KSN File Photo)

Saturating the streets with a simple flip of a switch, and making our streets safe is his number one priority.

“When we do this, we do this with the intent that, we’re saving lives,” said Fisher. “So, we do our best.”

It’s a tall order, and that’s why Fisher says preparation is key.

“This pre-maintenance is one of the most necessities that we find that we have to do.”

Planning efforts for Wichita’s first blast of winter expected this weekend began long before the cold weather hit.

“Since Wednesday, we’ve been putting down a brine solution on our streets to prevent icing on particularly those areas that are problem areas, elevated roads, intersections and hills,” said Alan King, with Wichita Public Works and Utilities.

The city’s fleet of 50 snow plow trucks and public works employees are on standby ready for the first snowflake to fall. The city is also looking into getting reinforcements.

“We rely on our own fleet, we have been looking at the possibility of setting up some contract services with a few others and haven’t been able to put any of those into place as of yet,” said King.

King said the city has picked up most of the sand from last winter’s snow, but only some of it could be used again. Right now, the city’s salt and sand facilities are filled to capacity with 16,000 tons of salt available. The city can do 10 passes throughout the city with the current supply. They say they will continue to top off the supply.

For those worried about if this wintry weather will be reminiscent of last year, King believes relief is on its way.

“We don’t think that’s the case this time because we’re looking at fairly warm temperatures coming next week so probably this will be a fairly short lived event and the roads will be bare probably sometime next week.”

Updates on road conditions will be posted on the City of Wichita Facebook page and the City of Wichita Twitter page.

The Wichita Police Department said they won’t have more officers on duty, but did say they could call people in as necessary, and offered simple advice to drivers.

“Just because your vehicle may be a big four-wheel drive, it may have great tires on it, you may be the best driver in the world; you’re driving amongst other people. Those people change into your lanes and you are unable to bring your vehicle to a stop then you are driving too fast for conditions,” said Lt. Joe Schroder.

Officials say drivers need to be aware of conditions when they’re on the road, and they need to slow down. They also say drivers need to be cautious on elevated roads.

The Wichita Police Department on Friday reminded motorists to drive safely and observe the following tips:

  • Plan extra time to reach your destination;
  • Keep your vehicle in proper working order;
  • Slow in slick conditions;
  • Allow for extra stopping distance;
  • Clear windows and windshield of ice, snow and other obstructions;
  • And stay away from safety equipment on the roads.

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