The flyover ramp on U.S. 40 leading to Interstate 80 westbound at Silver Creek Junction can be dangerous during winter conditions, but a recently installed de-icing system is proving to ensure safer road conditions during the winter.
The anti-icing system, an automated and pressurized system purchased by the Utah Department of Transportation from Boschung was installed last summer. It features a control system and a 5,000-gallon tank that holds potassium acetate, the active de-icing chemical.
UDOT Region 2 Engineer Steve Poulsen said crews had cut a groove in the flyover ramp's pavement less than a half an inch wide to install tubing lengthwise along the roadway. That tubing is connected to sprayers, and the system features 115 nozzles to deploy the chemical.
"This system has several 'smart pucks' that sense the actual conditions of the road surface and anticipate when the road is going to ice up," Poulsen said. "When the road is about to ice up, the system automatically activates."
The anti-icing system covers 1,600 feet of the roadway and can be manually overridden by the UDOT maintenance shed underneath U.S. 40 or from a laptop or smart phone, Poulsen said. Crews can also receive information on weather conditions on the flyover and how often the system functions.
"[This system] helps guys with snow plow operations to give them another tool to anticipate what conditions of the bridge are under certain weather conditions," Poulsen said.
The system has been operational since early November and Poulsen noted that UDOT Maintenance Shed Foreman Darrell Roberts says it is working the way it is supposed to.
The cost of the system's kit cost around $300,000 and another $150,000 to install it and get it operational, Poulsen said. UDOT is looking at other areas that have high incidents of icing up, and they look at accident data to justify installing similar systems.
Poulsen said he could envision an anti-icing system similar to this being installed near Parley's Canyon by Mountain Dell.
"[These systems] are costly but are something long-term. This will function for several years," Poulsen said, adding the system does not mitigate snow plowing but does help to prevent black ice from forming.