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Frequently Asked Questions


WINTER SEASON


1. What are the Snow and Ice Control limits of the Route 1 highway maintained by Gateway Operations?


The Route 1 limits of responsibility for Gateway includes all multi-lanes extending from km marker 0 in St. Stephen to km marker 239 in River Glade with the exception of the Saint John Harbour Bridge limits located in the multi-lanes between km marker 120.6 and km marker 123.  As well, Gateway’s responsibility for snow and ice control extends to all ramp exits and entrances between St. Stephen and River Glade with the exception of the following ramps located in the Saint John Harbour Bridge limits:


Eastbound on ramp at Exit 120 (Market Place)

Exit 121 (Chesley Drive)

Exit 122 (Market Square)

All exceptions are maintained by the Department of Transportation & Infrastructure (DTI)



2. What is Anti-icing and when/why is it applied to road surfaces?


Anti-icing is a pro-active application of snow & ice control melting products applied to road surfaces with specialized equipment, most commonly referred to as a Direct Liquid Application (DLA), in advance of a forecasted frost or snow storm event.   The DLA product of choice for Route 1 is restricted to Salt Brine and is generally applied on dry road surfaces, when conditions warrant, within 8 hours of and no more than 24 hours prior to, the beginning of precipitation or frost.  The effectiveness of Salt Brine is dependent on road temperatures, humidity and moisture on road surfaces during the early part of a winter event.   DLA’s are generally not performed when the roads are wet and/or pavement temperatures are expected to drop below -15˚C and/or rain is anticipated in the forecast.  


When a DLA is applied during ideal conditions, it prevents or mitigates the development of snow pack and/or frost forming on road surfaces during the early part of a winter event.  In the absence of a DLA, the road surface at the beginning of an event is generally exposed to slippery driving conditions as a result of frost or snow pack developing on road surfaces. These sorts of hazards will generally remain present until pavement temperatures increase above freezing and/or until such a time that De-icing operations are activated and completed.  



3. What is De-icing and when/why is it applied to road surfaces?


De-icing is the reactive application of snow and ice control melting products applied to road surfaces via plow trucks during a winter storm event.   Our plow trucks are equipped with various accessories, complete with solid and liquid storage capacity for spreading de-icing materials applied for the removal and/or melting of snow and ice from road surfaces. The choice of de-icing materials includes road salt and pre-wetting material.  De-icing materials are designed to remove (melt) or prevent the bonding of snow and ice to the road surfaces.  



4. What is Road Salt and when is it effective?


Road Salt is a solid de-icing material (Sodium chloride in the form of Rock Salt) spread on road surfaces during De-icing operations to either remove (melt) or prevent the bonding of snow and ice to road surfaces.


Road salt is a very efficient snow and ice control material for melting snow and ice from road surfaces, particularly when the pavement temperatures are hovering near or slightly below freezing temperatures.  However, road salt becomes less effective as pavement temperatures drop below -5˚C, and in most cases becomes ineffective when pavement temperatures drop below -10˚C.



5. What is Salt Brine?


Salt Brine is an Anti-icing and pre-wetting De-icing material (liquid sodium chloride) comprised of rock salt and clean water blended at a 23% concentration by weight (0.276 kg of rock salt per liter of salt brine).


 

6. What are pre-wetting materials and why are they used?


Pre-wetting materials have many functions, benefits and come in the form of various products and applications.  Pre-wetting materials are generally in liquid form comprised of salt brine and/or proprietary controlled products consisting of organics (agricultural bi-products) and alternate chloride products such as magnesium chloride (MgCl2) or calcium chloride (CaCl2).  


The pre-wetting material of choice for Route 1 consists of salt brine and salt brine blended at various ratios with proprietary products containing magnesium chloride and molasses.  These materials are applied to road surfaces during the spreading of dry salt via plow trucks equipped with on-board liquid capacity.   The application rates vary depending on the type of precipitation and pavement temperatures, but are commonly applied to road surfaces during de-icing operations at a rate of approximately 100 to 200 liters per tonne of rock salt.


There are many objectives for pre-wetting dry salt on Route 1 as listed below:

Accelerate the melting reaction for dry salt.  In general, rock salt needs moisture and heat to form a chemical reaction to form a brine to melt the snow and ice.  

The alternate chlorides (MgCl or CaCl) are considered freezing point depressants and increase the melting range of rock salt.

The agricultural bi-products (complex sugars) included in the pre-wetting material are considered organic materials, which reduce the amount of bounce and scatter of the rock salt and improves the residual of the snow and ice control product.



7.  What snow and ice control materials are common to Route 1?


There are a variety of snow and ice control materials in the market, each with its specific characteristics, properties, performance, availability, cost and impact; however, Gateway is restricted to mostly common available materials as noted below.  


















Material Type

Products

Forms Used

Application on Route 1

Chloride Salts

Sodium Chloride (NaCl)

Solid

De-icing

Liquid

Anti-icing and Pre-wetting

Calcium Chloride (CaCl2)

Mostly liquid

De-icing (Included in proprietary product for pre-wetting)

Magnesium Chloride, (MgCL2)

Mostly liquid

De-icing (Included in proprietary product for pre-wetting)

Organic Products

Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)

Mostly liquid

Not permitted by contract

Potassium Acetate (KA)

Liquid

Not permitted by contract

Agricultural By-Products (complex sugars)

Liquid

De-icing (Included in proprietary product for pre-wetting)

Nitrogen Products

Urea


Not permitted by contract

8. Is sand used on Route 1?


Sand is an abrasive material that offers no melting capability and is technically not considered a snow and ice control material.  Although sand may provide some amount of traction, particularly on snow packed roads, it is generally only applied to roads with a lower level of service than Route 1.   Most secondary roads where the level of service prohibits the use of rock salt may involve snow packed roads on which sand would be applied to provide additional traction. In general, primary roads consisting of freeways and most arterials will generally not permit the application of sand. In fact, many jurisdictions in North America exposed to winter events will typically prohibit the use of sand due to its negative impact on such items as the environment and fish habitat.  After time, sand will impede the positive flow of drainage in ditches.


For the above reasons, sand is typically not used on Route 1, but only as a last resort in isolated areas when pavement temperatures become too low to use snow and ice control materials.  



9. What are the plow cycles on Route 1?


Route 1 is comprised of 8 plow routes assigned to multi-lanes and 9 plow routes assigned to ramps.  The multi-lanes include 2 travel lanes (passing lane and driving lane) and the ramps include only one travel lane.  Each plow route has a plow truck assigned to each travel lane.  A plow cycle is an estimated time its takes each plow truck to complete its route based on an average plowing speed of 42 km/hr.  Route 1 plow routes are based on a plow cycle time not to exceed 108 minutes, considering that additional time is needed for refueling and restocking of snow and ice control materials. In general, each plow truck will travel approximately 80 kilometers to complete its plow route, and will typically complete the route in less than 2 hours under ideal circumstances. It is important to note that plow routes will have a longer plow cycle time when sight visibility is restricted.



10. What are the typical speeds for plow trucks and when is it safe to pass plow trucks?


A safe travelling speed for a plow truck is approximately 42 km/hr.  This is considered industry standard.  Plowing speeds greater than 50km/hr is generally not permitted due to the increased risk of accidents and damages to road side assets.  Plow speeds less than 42 km/hr are required during times when visibility becomes restricted for the driver due to white outs.  


In general, it is not safe to pass plow trucks on the multi-lanes particularly when plow trucks are plowing snow in tandem.   During tandem plowing operations, snow wind rows develop between the lead and rear plow truck resulting in a hazard should motorist attempt to pass between the plows.  The passing of plows is strictly prohibited where median concrete barriers are present, forcing all snow to be moved in tandem towards the right side.  This is the case in the Saint John throughway between km marker 117 to km marker 131 and in various other areas along Route 1.


There may be opportunities for motorists to pass plow trucks on the multi-lanes but only when the plow trucks are plowing independent of each other, in which case, the plows trucks will separate from each other to accommodate traffic flows.  However, in general, it is safer to remain behind plow trucks at all times since roads conditions in front of the plow trucks are typically more hazardous to the motoring public.  


11. What is tandem plowing?


Tandem plowing, commonly referred to as echelon plowing, is when two or more plow trucks are working together to move snow across a multi-lane highway, generally in one direction (towards the right).  Each plow truck relies on each other to move snow off road surfaces, and requires each plow truck to work in close proximity to the other.  Route 1 is a multi-lane highway comprised on 2 travel lanes in each direction.   Tandem plowing is performed on the multi-lanes of Route 1 during snow events requiring the movement of snow from the road surface during each plow cycle. The lead plow truck located in the passing lane will generally move snow to the driving lane where the rear plow truck will further move snow towards the right side or off the shoulder. During tandem plowing, it is not safe to pass the plows.  It is therefore recommended for all traffic to remain behind plows during a winter storm.



12. What is independent plowing?


Independent plowing is when two or more plow trucks are moving snow, independent of each other, on a multi-lane.   In general, the lead plow truck will move snow towards the left side, and the rear plow truck will move snow towards the right side.  Plow trucks generally work in unison; however, each plow truck can be further separated to accommodate the safe passing of plow trucks, if warranted.  Independent plowing is only possible in cases where there is sufficient snow storage area in the median and when the plows are set up to move snow in both directions.



13. Why is there more snow observed on the passing lane during or shortly after a snow event?


The passing lane receives the same level of service as the driving lane of Route 1.  There is one plow truck assigned to the passing lane and a second plow truck assigned to the driving lane during each snow storm event. Snow is expected to accumulate on both travel lanes between plowing cycles.   In most cases, traffic volumes are generally higher in the driving lane as opposed to the passing lane which can lead to the redistribution of snow accumulation from the driving lane to the passing lane giving the appearance that the passing lane is receiving less service than the driving lane.  This is typical of all multi-lanes where traffic volumes deviate between traffic lanes.  Also, when traffic is limited to mostly the driving lane, snow has a tendency to accumulate and become snow packed more frequently on the adjacent lane resulting in the requirement for additional De-icing work for the adjacent lane (passing lane in the case of Route 1) during and following snow storm events.



14. Why do some sections of road appear to be in better condition than others?


All areas of Route 1 receive the same level of service for plowing and snow removal.  Route 1 is comprised of various routes (8 plow routes for multi-lanes and 9 plow routes for ramps), and is subjected to various weather patterns and geography throughout the corridor.  Plows generally begin their routes when the snow accumulation is equal to or less than 20mm.  As well, each plow route takes approximately 2 hours to complete. Plow trucks will remain plowing their assigned routes continuously throughout the storm and will encounter brief interruptions in plowing for refueling and/or refilling of snow and ice control materials.  The condition of the lanes throughout the corridor will vary depending on the location of the plow trucks and the intensity of the storm.   Each plow truck has an assigned turn-around and are each responsible for their specific plow route. This is typical of all roads, with slight variations expected from section to section.  To better understand where our plow trucks are at any given time during a winter storm event, we invite you to view our Snow Plow Locator web page at http://www.gatewayoperations.ca/spl.html.



15.  Can the public see where the plow trucks are during a winter storm event?


The public can view the direction and speed of our plow trucks traveling along Route 1 during winter storm events by visiting our Snow Plow Locator page available on our website - http://www.gatewayoperations.ca/spl.html.  This feature is presented in relative real time (updates in 2 minute intervals).