City looks to use salt to melt ice on streets

Friday, August 27, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:59 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Columbia is one step closer to abandoning cinders as its primary means of combating snow and ice on its streets.

The city’s proposed budget for fiscal 2005 includes $30,000 to fund a site plan for a salt-housing facility. In late July the city paid $300,000 for a 6-acre tract, formerly owned by Columbia Ready Mix, at the east end of Big Bear Boulevard, where it plans to build a facility that would shelter salt and liquid calcium chloride.

The city can store 500 tons of salt and 10,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride to remove snow from roads. The planned facility would store an additional 4,500 to 5,000 tons of salt and 10,000 gallons of calcium chloride.

“We’ve come close to running out,” said Dennie Pendergrass, chief of operations for the Columbia Public Works Department. “You can go through 500 tons of salt real quick.”

The city in the past has used only limited amounts of salt, in conjunction with cinders and sand, to improve traction on wintry roads and to help snow and ice. Public sentiment against cinders has been growing in recent years, however, and the city is looking to salt as an alternative.

Pendergrass hopes the new storage building will be finished by spring and in operation by the end of 2005.

Bartlett and West Engineers received will design the site plan but not the facility.

“We’re really happy to have this,” said Randy Clarkson of Bartlett and West. Clarkson described as “very positive” the city officials’ decision to redevelop a site rather using an undeveloped property.

He was also impressed that the city is “insisting on incorporating the right features into this,” such as buffers and storm-water controls. “Not every client is interested in these things,” Clarkson said.

At a Wednesday work session on the budget, officials estimated it will cost about $565,000 to build the storage facility.

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