Frisco to de-ice with mag chloride |

Frisco to de-ice with mag chloride

Summit Daily file photo/Brad OdekirkOne lane of I-70, the darker one, is treated with magnesium chloride, used extensively by CDOT as a de-icer. According to Frisco Public Works Director Tim Mack, the town's use of the substance is so limited, compared to CDOT's, that environmental and vehicle impact will be insignificant.

FRISCO – During Tuesday’s work session, the Frisco Town Council approved the use of a magnesium chloride road de-icer for the coming winter by a vote of 5-1. The decision is a reversal of an April vote to discontinue use of the liquid de-icer.

The issue was brought to the attention of the council by Public Works Director Tim Mack, who contends that, when used in a responsible manner, mag chloride will not have a significant environmental impact relative to the alternative – a sand/salt mixture.

“The sand/salt mixture creates a lot of environmental problems itself,” said Mack. “There is a lot of runoff that ends up clogging streams and storm drains, impacting fish and other things down the line – when the sand is broken down into finer particles by traffic, which can be inhaled into the lungs.”

The specific product to be used, Ice Ban Ultra M, is a liquid solution containing a corn-based corrosion inhibitor and not more than 25 percent mag chloride. It will be used primarily in early and late winter, when warmer temperatures make the product most effective. The product’s application will be limited to intersections, hills and the core area of the town.

Mack said that compared to the amounts of mag chloride used by CDOT on Interstate 70 and Highways 6 and 9, the impact to the environment and to automobiles will be very little.

“Tim (Mack) is being responsible about it. They’re not pouring it down like Campbell’s Soup,” said Frisco Police Chief Tom Wickman.

“Part of the original outcry against mag chloride was that people saw all these dead trees along Summit Boulevard,” said Councilmember Dede Dighero-Tuso. “If (the town of Frisco) stopped using it, those trees would still be dead.”

According to Mack, mag chloride does not pose a corrosion risk to automobiles at the levels it will be used in Frisco.

“If you drive a lot on I-70, maybe you have a problem, but none of our town vehicles that stay in town are showing increased corrosion problems,” he said.

The deciding factor for most members of the council was road safety.

“From a public safety standpoint, mag chloride is the way to go, no question,” said Mack.

The council’s only dissenting member was Jon Zdechlik.

“I think (not using mag chloride) heightens awareness of drivers,” he said. “When we stopped using it, people slowed down, which was nice to see.”

In addition to impacts on the environment, public safety and vehicle corrosion, cost was also a consideration. While the material costs of Ice Ban Ultra M and sand/salt application are comparable, sand/salt requires multiple applications over the same period of time.

Also, sand must be swept from roads between storms to reduce airborne particulate matter. According to Mack, each sweeping costs the town about $300.

Mayor Bob Moscatelli, who supports the use of Ice Ban Ultra M, felt he had pushed the council too quickly into its April decision to ban mag chloride.

“I apologize to council and staff for rushing the decision,” he said.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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