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Moline public works crews have a new weapon in their snow removal arsenal this winter that will allow more lane miles to be pre-treated with ice prevention liquid while saving the city money.
For years, crews have treated a select number of Moline hills, busy intersections and dangerous curves with a product called BioMelt prior to anticipated snow or ice precipitation. Made primarily out of beet juice, BioMelt works well to prevent snow and ice from bonding with the road surface, but is expensive: costing around $2.60 per gallon.
This fall a new brine-solution making machine called the BrineXtreme was purchased. It uses automation and software to blend professional grade salt brine in house, utilizing the road salt Moline has already purchased.
Moline Street Operations Manager Graeme Jewell said with a touch of a button, operators can now produce around 1,000 gallons of salt brine in just 11 minutes. Even better, the cost per gallon is only 20 cents, compared to the nearly $3 a gallon BioMelt costs.
“This will let us pre-treat more lane miles at a much lower cost,” Jewell said. Eventually, the goal is to pre-treat nearly every non-residential lane mile in Moline prior to snowfalls, although additional equipment will have to be installed to increase capacity.
The brining work also must be done in a dry, climate-controlled environment, so a new garage was built in the parking lot west of the main public works building that houses the BrineXtreme machine – with its two 12,000-gallon storage tanks on the exterior.
The entire project was expected to cost around $172,000, which the City Council budgeted for, but much of the building construction – including framing, concrete and siding work was done in house by public works employees – bringing the total project cost down to $123,943.
“If we had contracted the building work, it would have went over budget considerably,” Jewell said. “We saved over $40,000 by doing the work ourselves.”
As November wound down, the finishing touches – including a new garage door – were being put in place at the new brining facility. Jewell said the hope and expectation is to have the mixer up and working in time for the next major winter storm event.