KNOXVILLE (Jan. 31, 2013) -- Thanks to their pro-active efforts, Knox County's Engineering & Public Works crews are prepared for this evening's winter weather advisory.
Knox County Highway crews will begin applying brine to county roadways after rush hour - around 6 p.m. - and will continue to treat primary and secondary roads until midnight.
Highway Department supervisors will monitor road conditions in the county and continue to communicate with authorities to determine necessary precautions.
The department divides the county into seven highway districts and will have a brine-equipped truck assigned to each one Thursday evening.
A dispatcher at the Highway Department will help coordinate the efforts of our road crews, which will allow them to more effectively and efficiently treat county roads. The Knox County Highway department maintains all roadways in Knox County, except private, state and federal roads or highways and any inside the City of Knoxville.
Anyone needing to report problematic or hazardous road conditions on a Knox County road should call 865-215-5800.
During winter storms, residents should stay off the roads whenever possible until crews have cleared the snow. Workers will start clearing main thoroughfares and known problem areas first, and then move on to complaints and secondary roads.
Prepared for the winter season
Last year, Knox County's Highway Department began installing brine tanks to be used together with regular granulated salt on major roadways and trouble spots during the winter. The new brine system includes three 1,600 gallon tanks mounted on tandem-axle dump trucks and seven 1,000 gallon tanks used with single-axle dump trucks.
Salt brine is a liquid mixture of salt and water that is applied to roadways to stop snow from sticking to pavements. Currently, Knox County has 20,000 gallons of liquid brine and 3,000 tons of granulated salt prepped and ready for use. An additional 2,000 gallons of calcium chloride, which is used to maintain the effectiveness of both liquid and granular material in extremely cold temperatures, is also on hand if needed.
"The Knox County Highway Department does a great job of keeping our roads safe during winter weather, and this brine system allows them to do their job more efficiently and at a savings to the taxpayers," said Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett. "Ultimately, the most important aspect of our winter weather plan is public safety."
Along with the added safety benefits of brine application, it is also a more cost-effective way to treat wintery roadways. When roads are pretreated with brine it lowers the need for regular salt and makes subsequent applications more effective.
In addition to cutting down on salt consumption, brine application has environmental advantages, too. Less salt on the side of the road means a smaller amount of it will go down our storm drains and into adjacent waterways.
Knox County Fleet Services also plays an important role in preparing the fleet to combat winter weather. The Fleet Services Preventative Maintenance Program ensures the dump trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles are in top condition ahead of the first snow. Fleet staff inspects the vehicles for needed maintenance and change belts, replace hydraulic hoses and perform numerous other repairs as needed.
Depending on the severity of the weather, Knox County has a fleet of dump trucks equipped with snow plows, salt spreaders and brine tanks ready for dispatch. The county also has a dozen four-wheel-drive trucks equipped with smaller snow plows for use on more narrow roads.