Town of Osgood and the county partner
Working together saves money

Wanda English Burnett, Editor

An idea and some research led two local entities to the right solution to save money when treating roadways for snow and ice. It’s called brine.

Brine is a liquid made with salt and chemicals that is spread on the road before snow or ice hits it.
The concept is not new, not even to the Ripley County Highway Department, who is one owner of the new system. The Town of Osgood is the other agency involved.

Actually, back in November of 2008, Osgood Gas and Street Superintendent Steve Wilhoit realized his budget was not sufficient to purchase the amount of salt that might be needed for the town’s streets. With a budget of $1500 to buy salt, Wilhoit told the Osgood Journal, “I knew we just couldn’t do it.”

The cost of salt had more than tripled from last year going from $43 a ton to $150 a ton.
Quickly doing the math, Wilhoit said it would take approximately five-ton of salt to make one round for all the streets in Osgood. One snow event could take nearly half of his budget.

Wilhoit said he saw the state and county trucks spreading the liquid solution and thought, “Why not Osgood?”

He began to research and then partnered with Junior Heaton at the county to get his input. The county had gotten the brine solution in the past from Switzerland County. This year they were told they would not be able to get any more from that county.

Employees from Osgood and the county highway took what Wilhoit describes as “field trips” to see how the brine solution was made. They toured the Switzerland County facility only to discover the price was way out of their league, about $60,000.

Then they went to Ohio County where they found the price to be affordable and heard only positive comments about the overall use of brine over salt.

Wilhoit said he was told the little towns have a greater advantage even over the county because their streets are traveled more. When the vehicles drive over the solution, it is activated, making it ready for the snow or ice. When the winter elements then fall, they melt on contact.

The solution can be sprayed on the roads 48 hours in advance of a forecasted storm providing the roads are dry. Overtime for employees is nearly eliminated with this process.

Wilhoit said one round of brine on the streets of Osgood will cost about $150.

The system to make the brine solution and tanks to hold the liquid will be housed at the Ripley County Highway Garage and should be completely installed this week. “We hope to be up and running by the first of February,” Wilhoit noted.

The cost to put the system in place is $13,633.90, according to Wilhoit and that will be shared by the Town of Osgood and the county. There will be a mixing tank and three holding tanks.

The solution will take about 2000 pounds of salt to create 1000 gallons of brine. Wilhoit explained it can be sprayed on dry roads even at 15 degrees. He noted there is a certain mix of calcium chloride that can even be used when the temperature dips to zero.

Wilhoit and street employee Tim Kreutzjans, designed their own system for the town’s truck. They bought a large plastic tank for around $600. Then they fabricated the metal for the back frame, drilled holes in PVC pipes and with a little hardware, their truck is ready. “We couldn’t have bought it for less than $3,000,” Wilhoit noted.

County Highway Superintendent Junior Heaton said, “I think it’s a great deal.” He is excited about the partnership with Osgood and believes it will also benefit other local municipalities.

The plan is to offer the brine solution to other towns at a rate less than they would pay for salt. That money would be used to maintain the system.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Wilhoit concluded, noting the plan is to save money, make the streets and sidewalks cleaner, sooner, and use less of a natural resource, salt.

Pictured are Gas and Street Superintendent Steve Wilhoit, right, and Tim Kreutzjans, as they check out the new system they designed to spray brine solution on the streets of Osgood. The two fabricated the metal and put the system together, saving the town hundreds of dollars.