Helena bridge interchange now features an automated anti-icing system

Posted at 12:31 PM, Dec 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-05 13:31:41-05

The interchange at Capital and Cedar in Helena now features a $1,100,000 automated anti-icing system.

Tony Strainer, Montana Department of Transportation’s maintenance review supervisor, says that the system will help give road crews the upper hand on icy conditions this winter.

"This system enables our crews to get ahead of the game, and it really helps them to be proactive, and hopefully we’ll see a positive effect from it," said Strainer.

When the bridge was rebuilt over the summer, around 100 nozzles were installed inside the bridge deck that will automatically spray an anti-icing chemical when temperatures drop close to freezing.

The nozzles’ spray range is large, and reaches most of the bridge.

"Before it actually freezes, the system is activated, potassium acetate is spread under the bridge deck and forms a bond between the concrete and the potassium acetate," said Strainer.

A road weather information system built on the bridge detects the surface temperature of the bridge to see if it’s time to spray potassium acetate on it. 

Strainer said a few other states have these systems as well, including Colorado and Nebraska. 

They are becoming more and more popular across the country.

"They’ve had really good luck with them, they’re really pleased with the system overall," said Strainer.

With the heavy traffic across the bridge, Strainer said it’s a great opportunity for them to try out the system and see if it might be expanded across the state. 

"Of course we have so many rivers and streams in Montana that it’s probably going to be something that’s going to be heavily looked at for future use," said Strainer.

This is the second anti-icing system installed in Montana, but the first one integrated inside the bridge.

The first one was a retrofit of a bridge in the Laurel area west of Billings.