Will salt brine hurt wire in highway structures?


The in basket: Jerry Darnall of Kingston noted the Road Warrior about Kitsap County plans to add salt brine to its ice-control measures on county roads this winter (you can find in on the Road Warrior blog if you missed it) and e-mailed to say, “Been watching with interest the new style of retainer wall, both  

the county and the state have been using a lot. 

“A considerable amount of the new (Highway) 305 expansion in Poulsbo is done this way, galvanized metal grid, then filled with compacted rock,” Jerry said. 

“Seemed effective and efficient … until I read that Kitsap is going to start using salt compounds on roads this winter,” he wrote. “While this stuff  

is obviously galvanized, I suspect the overall life of the metal  

component of those retainer walls just dropped by a third.

“While the salt compound may be cheaper up front, I wonder what the longer term costs will be,” Jerry wrote. “Any estimates?”

The out basket: Those are called gabion baskets and have been around for decades, usually inside retaining walls. They have a line of them for what appear to be decorative purposes on the downhill side of the new Kitsap County administrative building in Port Orchard. I haven’t gotten anybody to tell me why they were chosen, so my best guess so far is that they provide a wall that skateboarders can’t skate on.

The brine solution is to be used only on county roads this winter, so unless vehicles drag it with them, state highway impacts wouldn’t be great. 

Doug Bear of Kitsap County Public Works said the impacts on county roads aren’t expected to be any greater. “We checked with Pierce County, Washington State Department of

Transportation, and the California Department of Transportation to see

if they have had problems with salt-brine and gabion mesh corrosion,” Doug said. “None of the agencies noticed any significant deterioration. An extensive

study was conducted by CALTRANS and is available here:

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/oppd/hydrology/gabion.htm,” he said.

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