Beet juice: the secret to making road salt more effective in Moline

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MOLINE-- Driver Andrew McClinton has heard the stories.

"There was a lot of slipping and sliding, maybe two or three accidents," says McClinton.

He tries his best to avoid traveling on bridges like I-74 when it's cold.

From our WQAD traffic cam video, you can see cars sliding into one another left and right even before the sun came up.

The roads don't necessarily look bad, and that's the problem.

"See, that's how black ice gets you. You don't see it until it's too late," says McClinton.

Bridges like I-74 are plowed and salted by state departments. But Moline Public Works manager Rodd Schick knows a thing or two about icy bridges.

"They are very difficult to manage. The problem that you have is it's not only freezing temperatures above, but below as well," says Schick.

And just because it's not snowing doesn't mean you're in the clear. The cold adds additional problems.

"With these extremely cold temperatures, you can get yourself and anti-ice material down, and it works. But then at a certain point, it gets diluted enough that it's no longer working. And because it's so cold at that point, it turns to ice," says Schick.

But there is a trick Moline does to make their road salt more effective. If you notice the salt in Moline looks brown, it's because public works mixes regular road salt with a solution made out of beet juice called GeoMelt.

"It's a fully organic product that's not corrosive. It basically lowers the effective melting ranging of our salt down to about 30 degrees below zero. So that makes a big difference," says Schick.

So avoid driving if you can.

"With the really cold temperatures like we've got, everyone just needs to be very proactive and do what they can to be as safe as possible," says Schick.

But if you have to, do so with care.

"I'm looking forward to that bridge. If I can make it there safe, I'll be okay," says McClinton.

Because of last year's mild winter, the city of Moline has saved about $300,000 in salt in 2017.

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