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Oklahoma City testing more sustainable, less corrosive solution for treating icy roads

Plows drive down a road during a winter storm Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogrocki
Plows drive down a road during a winter storm Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City is experimenting with a new way to treat roads ahead of potential wintry weather Tuesday.

Drivers in the metro may notice a few bridges with a redder tint. That's because Oklahoma City’s Public Works Department is experimenting with beet juice to combat potential icy conditions Tuesday.

According to a news release, the department says beet juice is used in northern cities like Calgary, Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati.

So, what makes the beet juice solution different? Public Works Emergency Operations Manager Mike Love Jr. says rock salt needs temperatures above 15 degrees and sunlight to be effective, but adding a percentage of beet juice to the salt or brine mixture brings the operational temperatures down to -10 to -20 degrees.

“Since this is the first time we are trying beets in our brine, we will start with a salt solution that has 5% beets,” Love said. “Our goal is to streamline the City’s snow and ice program, so we can provide rapid and effective response to make our roadways safer during the winter season.”

Beet juice has the added benefit of being less corrosive than salt and it's biodegradable.

Oklahoma City has purchased 2,000 gallons of beet juice for the pilot program.

Eleven bridges in OKC will be treated with the beet-laced brine solution.

  • Exchange Avenue over the Oklahoma River
  • Pennsylvania over the Oklahoma River
  • Agnew Avenue over the Oklahoma River
  • May Avenue over the Oklahoma River
  • Portland Avenue over the Oklahoma River
  • Meridian Avenue over the Oklahoma River
  • MacArthur Boulevard over the North Canadian River
  • Council Road over the North Canadian River
  • Meridian Avenue over Airport Road
  • MacArthur Boulevard over Airport Road
  • Meridian Avenue over SW 54th Street

According to the National Weather Service in Norman, a strong storm system will bring rain and snow to the area Tuesday and Tuesday night. Many areas will receive an inch or more or snow, with some locations having the potential of 4 to 6 inches of snow.

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Nyk has worked in radio since 2011 serving as a board operator, on-air announcer and production director for commercial radio stations in Iowa. Originally from the Quad Cities area, Nyk joined KGOU in 2018 as a practicum student studying Creative Media Production at OU. Upon graduating the following year, he became part of KGOU’s staff and is now the local Morning Edition host. When not on the air, Nyk likes to read, listen to music and follow news about the radio industry.
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