IN THE NEWS: Salt, brine, calcium chloride, concrete, asphalt—and road safety

UPDATED January 23, 2019

City Council has effectively decided to continue Edmonton’s anti-icing pilot project.

The decision (technically a move not to re-open a decision in October 2018 to discontinue the project) came at the end of an afternoon of questions on the topic at City Hall on Tuesday, January 22.

Screen Shot 2019-01-22 at 4.08.26 PM

The presentation kicked off with remarks from City Manager Linda Cochrane, who addressed concerns around a June 2018 memo regarding preliminary results from laboratory testing of salt and calcium chloride on asphalt and concrete samples. (See below for more context and a link to the memo itself.)

“I do want to state that we have never intended to withhold any information from you about anything,” Cochrane said.

“The public discussion about this memo over the past week reveals a need to talk about the context and use of data and information in the recommendations we bring to you.”

Cochrane said the findings summarized in the memo will now be tested in field conditions.

“These study findings along with other data will inform our final technical review, and allow us to present a fuller picture of what we can expect from calcium chloride application on our infrastructure,” Cochrane said. “It is that fuller picture that will inform our final recommendations to you.”


An update with analyzed findings comes back to a City Council committee in June, and then recommendations and a final debate on the anti-icing pilot project are scheduled to happen in August.

The theme of trust and transparency was picked by Catrin Owen, the City of Edmonton’s Deputy City Manager of Communications and Engagement.

“One of the things I believe we have to do better is describe our processes, share our findings, communicate our decisions and rationale,” Owen told City Council. “You have an Administration deeply committed to that endeavour. And this will not only be a calcium chloride pilot. It will in many respects be a trust pilot, too.”

“And this will not only be a calcium chloride pilot. It will in many respects be a trust pilot, too.”

Gord Cebryk, the Deputy City Manager of City Operations, said the anti-icing pilot project connects to Vision Zero, the City’s long-term commitment to reducing to zero the number of roadway deaths and serious injuries.

“Our ultimate goal is safety,” Cebryk said. “We want to use the right tools, at the right time, to make our roads, paths, sidewalks and bus stops as safe as possible.”


Original Post from Thursday, January 17, 2019

Background: A June 11, 2018, memo from the City of Edmonton’s Engineering Services to Janet Tecklenborg, Director of Infrastructure Operations, outlines preliminary results of laboratory research into the impacts of salt and brine on concrete and asphalt.

Read the memo outlining the laboratory work here.

tecklenborg memo

The four-page memo includes the results of laboratory tests conducted in February 2018 on samples of concrete and asphalt treated with salt (sodium chloride, or NaCl) and calcium chloride (also known as brine).  

Less than a month after the memo was received, the issue of snow and ice control landed at City Council. Council had asked for a report into alternative practices for handling snow and ice. Specifically: the use of anti-icing agents; the use of machines to remove snow; and, how best to balance salt, sand or brine treatments.

Read the July 4  City report for valuable contextAdditional information was provided in an October report.

On Tuesday, January 22, a snow and ice research process update comes back to City Council. City Manager Linda Cochrane will provide an update on the progress to date. Deputy City Manager Gord Cebryk will also be present.  The merits of salt and calcium chloride are not intended to be under discussion. This will be a process update only. 

You can watch the livestream of the meeting here:

If you have time, please learn more about the City’s anti-icing program and the research we are doing on keeping Edmontonians as safe as possible.

We’ll update this post after the Tuesday meeting.



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