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Road Crews Using Salt To Treat Tulsa Streets

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A truck salts a Tulsa street Wednesday night as the storm moves in. A truck salts a Tulsa street Wednesday night as the storm moves in.
Paul Strizek, with the City of Tulsa, said the city uses pure salt, no sand, to treat the streets. Paul Strizek, with the City of Tulsa, said the city uses pure salt, no sand, to treat the streets.
A salt truck plows Tulsa streets Thursday afternoon. A salt truck plows Tulsa streets Thursday afternoon.

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- When the snow plows roll in Tulsa, they're on specific routes, carrying out a strategy that's been tested and changed over the years.

The City of Tulsa has 55 spreader trucks, 35 of which have snow plows on the front, to carry out Tulsa's two-pronged attack against winter weather.

1/20/2011 Related Story: Oklahoma Drivers Slip And Slide Through Snowy Streets

"Our goal in Tulsa is a bare pavement policy and it's exactly what it sounds like, you're not driving on ice, you're not driving on snow," said Paul Strizek. "Now sometimes it takes us a day or two to get there."

Paul Strizek, with the City of Tulsa, said after years of trying different methods the City settled on a simple plowing and melting strategy using pure salt, with no sand in the mix.

"With the application of salt, that loosens the ice and puts holes in it and turns it to slush and we can plow that," he said.

In the City of Tulsa, the basic strategy is to use a plow to scrape the snow off the top, and then hit the ice underneath with salt. When that's done correctly, it melts the ice and leaves you with bare pavement.

Of course all that takes time. City employees spread 900 tons of salt before noon Thursday. In some places, that's all that's needed.

"In a lot of locations that are wide open, the snow blows off the highway and leaves you with bare ice, and in that case, we're just going to put down salt," Strizek said.

The salt costs ten times as much as sand, but it doesn't have to be cleaned up. The city keeps sand in reserve, but only in case they run low on salt.

"That's a fallback plan," Strizek said. "If we had a whole bunch of storms and the salt was getting used up we'd start mixing half sand and half salt."

While Tulsa uses pure salt, the state uses a salt and sand mix.  Some rural counties rely on pure sand, it's much less expensive and works in places where it doesn't need to be cleaned up.

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