Engineer takes different approach to ice and snow

Crews with the Scioto County Engineer working with road salt.

When it comes to combating snow and slick conditions on county roads, Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman and his crews are responsible. This year Opperman is trying something different.

Opperman is on a limited basis using Beet Heet, a sugar beet, molasses-based product designed to increase rock salt’s capacity.

“We’re trying a new process this year. This (Beet Heet) is something that works in lower temperature events. We’re using Beet Heet which is a liquid material you can use as an additive to your salt,” Opperman said.

He said the product is only being tested in Scioto County and is not mixed in all of the county’s road salt supply.

“Some counties, say they can use up to one third less salt and at the price, it could be a savings for us,” Opperman said.

He said the product is most effective when used during lower temperature, snow events.

“Generally when you get to 18 or 20 degrees it (road salt) just sits there. This stuff has some carbohydrates and sugars that help it activate to produce heat,” Opperman said.

To test the product, Opperman said his office purchased a tanker full of Beet Heat from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Matt Bruning, Press Secretary for the ODOT said the product is used but not in all parts of the state.

Throughout the state 45,000 gallons of Bet Heet concentrate has been used.

“(ODOT) District 9 has not used any, the district that uses the most is District 7, which is in the Dayton area,” Bruning said.

He said the product is not widely used and is not used in ODOT Districts 5, 8, 9, 10 or 12. It’s used sparingly in District 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 with the main users in district 11 and 7.

In total Opperman and his crews are responsible for 415 miles of roadway maintenance and snow removal.

He said Beet Heat is being used in select locations and primary routes that need it.

When asked about the results of the product thus far Opperman said, “Our drivers are saying, they’re seeing an improvement (when using Beet Heat). We’re not adjusting the amount of salt used, we’re using it as extra. We’re not only seeing this as a potential savings, but a faster melt.”

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT