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Missouri Department of Transportation

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MoDOT News Release 

For more information, contact Sandy Hentges or Melissa Black at (573) 526-4141

December 04, 2007 12:00 AM
MoDOT Hopes to "Beet" Mother Nature This Winter

JEFFERSON CITY - MoDOT is hoping to "beet" Mother Nature this winter by using an anti-icing product made from sugar beets to help keep the roads clear.  Besides its tried and true snow removal equipment and materials, the department has been testing a product called Geomelt that helps cut down on the amount of salt used. 

"The beet juice is a natural product that works well when mixed with either rock salt or liquid salt brine to keep ice from forming on the roads before a storm," said Jim Carney, MoDOT's state maintenance engineer.  "It also helps melt snow and ice once they are already on the roads.  Combined with salt, the beet juice freezes at a lower temperature than just salt alone so it can be used when the weather is colder - even at temperatures well below zero."

MoDOT has been testing the product in the northwest and Springfield area districts for the past couple of years with success. "We have used about 24,000 gallons in our district this year, mainly as a pretreatment to keep the salt from caking, but also to enhance the salt's performance," said Brad Brown, MoDOT senior pavement specialist in the Springfield District.

The mixture reduces the corrosive properties of salt and improves its effectiveness. That means less salt, more efficiency and less equipment, bridge deck and vehicle corrosion. The beet juice costs about $1.66 per gallon and the department is considering using more of it across the state in coming years.

The sugar beet juice is brown in color, so salt mixed with it is somewhat brown as well. "These aren't the purple beets that people eat," said Carney. "The liquid is a by-product of sugar production from beets that are grown mainly in the Dakotas."

 Annually MoDOT spends approximately $30 million on snow and ice removal. Last year, approximately 3,000 dedicated employees spent more than 541,000 hours using the 1,800 snow-removal vehicles, which added up to $43 million on snow and ice prevention and removal. The department is planning to use more of the beet juice across the state in coming years.

"Although MoDOT works hard to clear roads fast and make them safe for motorists, it is also the motorist's job to drive cautiously, pay extra attention to signs and drive defensively," Carney said. "Remember to give snowplows plenty of room to work, don't tailgate and try not to pass. Always buckle up, and remember, when driving in winter, Ice and Snow, Take It Slow." 

For information on road conditions across the state, safe traveling tips and a diagram on driveway clearing techniques, visit http://www.modot.org/ or call 888-ASK MODOT. Recorded road-condition information is available at (800) 222-6400.

Editor's note:  Downloadable sound bites from Maintenance Liaison Engineer Tim Jackson,  along with winter operations photos can be found at www.modot.org/newsroom.

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