This winter has been more "normal" than usual - with plenty of snow, cold temperatures, and lots of ice.  Many drivers have encountered black ice on highways and roads - a situation that has been made worse by our extreme cold temperatures.

To combat that black ice and hazardous roadways, St. Louis County has unveiled a new program of pre-treatment; the method will also reduce overall salt use at the same time.

According to St. Louis County officials:

The new tools include brine-making equipment, and a new truck that features a hook lift to allow for multiple truck bodies/attachments to be used on the same chassis. The new attachments include a large tank capable of hauling and applying 2,500 gallons of brine and liquid chemicals, and a precision salt applicator. If the new tools works as well as anticipated, Public Works plans to purchase more of these direct application trucks for better coverage countywide.

How it works is, Public Works crews mix and apply the brine to roads three to five days in advance of a forecast storm as a pre-treatment. The solution is applied as a liquid and dries on the roadway, after which it prevents ice and snow from bonding to the road, thus making it easier for plows to clear away even compacted snow.

At this point, the county will be utilizing the system on roadways that see heavy traffic.

There is one caveat to the new brine system.  The fluid itself isn't necessarily harmful to vehicles, but it can be extremely hard to wash off.  The county cautions drivers to pass with care.