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Jayson JacobyThe Baker City HeraldView belief and bio
Dave Dethloff’s job is to accumulate a 52-mile area of Interstate 84 as safe as accessible for travelers admitting Baker County’s occasionally arctic climate.
He’s awash on salt.
As the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) moves through its additional winter appliance alkali to activity snow and ice on Interstate 84 from Boardman to the Idaho border, Dethloff, who manages ODOT’s Baker aliment area abreast the Milepost 302 altering in arctic Baker City, said alkali has accepted its value.
“It’s abundantly able in aloof about any condition,” Dethloff said.
Back temperatures are moderate, alkali helps anticipate falling snow from afraid to the freeway, he said.
And back the temperature plummets and a band of ice forms, alkali can alpha to cook the ice and advice plows scrape it off the pavement added thoroughly and quickly.
“It’s been a huge apparatus for us,” Dethloff said. “We’re accepting bigger driveability for the public, and that’s the goal.”
Although abounding states accept acclimated alkali for decades to accord with snow and ice, Oregon admiral had continued resisted accomplishing so in allotment due to apropos about alkali acerbic cartage and communicable fish-bearing streams.
In 2012 ODOT started a five-year pilot activity in which it beforehand alkali on a aerial area of Interstate 5 abreast the California border, and on Artery 95 in Oregon’s southeastern corner.
ODOT admiral said the agreement on I-5 and Artery 95 showed the allowances of salt, and in 2017 the bureau allowable Phase 2 of its pilot project, which includes appliance alkali on Interstate 84 amid Boardman and the Idaho bound (for a account of areas area alkali can be used, see boxed adventure at right).
That about 200-mile area includes areas abominable for awful winter active conditions, including the Blue Mountains, Baker and Arctic Powder valleys, the Burnt River Canyon and Three Mile Hill amid Farewell Bend and Ontario.
Dethloff acknowledges that neither aftermost winter, nor so far the accepted version, was as albino as the 2016-17 winter, which brought abreast almanac amounts of snow and sub-zero temperatures to Northeastern Oregon.
But he said both this winter and aftermost were allusive tests of the ability of salt, and in about every case the simple admixture passed.
“We knew it was activity to be a acceptable apparatus (based on the pilot activity on I-5 and Artery 95), but we didn’t apperceive how acknowledged it was absolutely activity to be,” Dethloff said.
Besides allowance ODOT crews accumulate the freeway bright during and afterwards winter storms, he said alkali has abundantly bargain the charge to beforehand traction-adding bedrock on the freeway.
As of aboriginal this week, Dethloff said the Baker aliment base has gone through about 80 cubic yards of alkali on its area of I-84 during the winter season, starting Nov. 1.
By comparison, during antecedent winters — the absolute winter, not aloof through aboriginal January — the base has dumped about 1,000 bags of rock, Dethloff said.
In accomplished winters, he said, crews generally had to administer beach assorted times as falling snow covered the antecedent layer.
Appliance alkali instead has generally alleviated the charge to use any sand.
Dethloff said ODOT workers are still acquirements how to get the best after-effects from salt.
“We’re still acquirements as an agency,” he said. “I anticipate it’s activity to booty a few added years to fine-tune all the accessories and accomplish abiding it’s dialed in.”
Dethloff said drivers accept acclimatized on a best appliance amount of 200 pounds of alkali for one lane over one mile.
In some altitude they are distributing alkali at bisected that amount — 100 pounds per lane mile.
“The ambition is to use as little as accessible and still be effective,” Dethloff said.
ODOT’s appliance ante are low compared with the abstracts listed in a guidebook from the Alkali Institute, a nonprofit barter affiliation in Virginia that promotes the use of alkali on roads.
The Institute’s “Snowfighter’s Handbook” lists a array of alkali appliance ante depending on alley altitude and temperatures, but in best cases the accumulation recommends ante from 150 pounds to 400 pounds per lane mile.
ODOT crews abide to use addition de-icing chemical, the aqueous magnesium chloride.
Drivers administer magnesium chloride on accessory highways — alkali at this point is acclimated alone on I-84 — in beforehand of storms to abate the accident of ice forming, Dethloff said.
The de-icer leaves characteristic alongside curve forth the highway, and is advantageous on black corners and hills, he said.
ODOT additionally mixes magnesium chloride with the alkali — about 20 gallons per ton of salt, a activity accepted as “pre-wetting” — to accomplish the alkali added effective, Dethloff said.
According to the Alkali Institute, “salt needs damp to accommodate melting action.”
See added in the Jan. 9, 2019, affair of the Baker City Herald.