To brine or not to brine? Behind-the-scenes of NCDOT winter weather preps

- When it comes figuring out how much brine to use and when or where to use it, it's a constant numbers game for NCDOT.

"We have to change with the storm and as the storm changes we have to change up our tactics and handle it however best we can," NCDOT Maintenance Engineer David Gillette said.

Brine is that white coating you see on roads made up of a water and salt mix. It’s one of cheapest tools NCDOT has to keep snow from sticking around.

“Brine is pretty effective to manufacture. It's about 14 cents a gallon. Our tandem trucks can carry 15,000 gallons per load," NCDOT spokesperson Jen Thompson said.

That's enough to cover more than 40 miles and doing it now gives it more time to stick to the road.

“Brine doesn't keep the snow from falling, doesn't keep it from accumulating. The theory of the brine is, it helps not let ice bond to the surface of the road," Gillette explained.

NCDOT has to be careful using brine during below freezing temperature because it can freeze and make roads slippery. If heavy rain is forecast before snow, the rain could wash the mixture away making all the work done rendered useless.

The hardest part is actually driving the trucks full of brine. The liquid can create an imbalance for drivers when they are taking turns. If you aren’t used to it, it can be a little nauseating.

After the snow comes, NCDOT will continue to treat roads but with traffic melting the snow and the threat of an overnight freeze after Saturday, NCDOT will have to resort to using other tactics like sand or rock salt.

“There's not a cure all to keep it from forming completely but we do what we can to mitigate it a much as possible. If you have to go out and drive know that the possibility still exist for some ice, don't think it's not there, especially black ice," Thompson said.

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