Road crews lay salt, anticipating higher temps

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Salt trucks are attempting to treat roads as freezing temperatures inch their way up.

When temperatures are 20 degrees or lower, salt treatment is less effective on frozen roads. Earlier this week, temperatures were so low that the chemicals couldn’t do a good job clearing the ice. On Wednesday afternoon, temperatures climbed just high enough for Kent County salt trucks to start on the highways and major roads.

“It will help. We put down the deicing chemicals this afternoon because it did get up to 20 degrees, so we did the freeway system and the main state trunk lines,” said Jerry Byrne, managing director of the Kent County Road Commission.

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Salt trucks will continue Thursday morning.

“The main county primaries did get some deicing chemicals. It has helped, but it will probably refreeze when we get the lake-effect tonight,” Byrne said.

He said the ice is still concerning.

“In the morning it may look better than what it is. A lot of that hard pack is gone but it will refreeze tonight,” said Byrne Wednesday.

That’s why drivers must continue to monitor their speeds on the roads.

“Really pay attention because while it’s going to look better, it is better, but it’s still not great. They still need to leave early tomorrow morning and they still need to slow down this evening,” Byrne said.

Just because you can see pavement, doesn’t mean that pavement is there.

“Chances are, that pavement has a very thin layer of ice. The sun goes down tonight, those temps drop back down, any moisture that’s there is going to freeze up,” Byrne said.

Applying salt to the roads aims to take care of the mix of inclement weather.

“The compounding problems of the cold temps continue, lake effect and wind chill. You just kept refreezing things and earlier this week salt didn’t work at all. Today it works some, not great but we are able to get some better roads, but it is going to refreeze. Tomorrow, it sounds like warmer temps, less wind, less lake-effect.”

Experts say to be cautious of ice and slow down.

Traffic continued to be messy Wednesday, there were several road closures in the morning including US-131 at 36th Street, which opened a half hour later and WB M-6 exit ramp to Kalamazoo Avenue which opened 15 minutes later.

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