Mountaineer

Winter weather heavily impacts PA roads and vehicles

Stephen Bauer, Staff Writer

Unless you own a car wash, you probably hate what the long winter does to Pennsylvania cars and roads. Before every harsh winter storm comes, Penndot and other local organizations are out working overtime to prepare for the event. During this time, they drop rock salt and brine on the main roads of Stroudsburg and surrounding communities.

Rock salt is put on roads because it has a higher freezing point than water. The purpose of it is to keep the roads from freezing over. A major drawback for using rock salt is that it only works when the temperature is above 15 degrees fahrenheit.

Brine is a more efficient alternative that is sprayed on roads as a liquid. The effectiveness is 100%. Brine is a mixture of sodium chloride and magnesium chloride dissolved in water so it can be sprayed.

In an experiment done by the Michigan Department of Transportation, approximately 40% of the rock salt spread on the roads will fall to the shoulder and be no good.

During and after the storms, crews plow constantly to try to keep the roads driveable. The heavy plow and friction from the blade tear up the roads. The “freeze and thaw” cycle is when precipitation gets in the cracks and the temperature fluctuates in a short period of time; this creates potholes.

Along with the rock salt left on the roads, these potholes destroy your car. Over time the left over rocks eat away at the metal under your car causing rust. So at the end of the winter, be sure to get a full body car clean to help prevent erosion from rock salt.

Hitting an unexpected pothole can damage the tires, rims, undercarriage, exhaust system, and tire alignment of your car. Be more cautious and alert to try to avoid all potholes if possible.

Penndot spends $35.2 million for pothole repairs, using approximately 53,000 tons of asphalt. Most of these repairs are only temporary for the season, and are called cold patching. Cold patching is asphalt mixed with soap water and stones.

Cars are very important to our society these days, and it would be a major inconvenience for something to go wrong. Penndot wants to fix them, and the only way they can fix them is if they know about them. If you come across any road damage please contact Penndot 1-800-FIX-ROAD (349-7623). 

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1 Comment

One Response to “Winter weather heavily impacts PA roads and vehicles”

  1. Cheri West on May 30th, 2018 12:02 PM

    Awesome article! The reason the magnesium chloride works better in colder weather is that when it is dissolved, it gives three ions per unit (one Mg and two Cls) whereas rock salt (NaCl) only gives two. The three ions of MgCl2 provide more “interference”, blocking water molecules from coming close enough together to form a solid (freezing) than the two ions of sodium chloride. This phenomena is known as “Freezing Point Depression”.

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