Experimental nonsaline de-icing system installed on stretch of Brooklyn Bridge Sprinklers will spray antifreeze chemicals less corrosive than salt

December 31, 1997|By NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

NEW YORK -- The Brooklyn Bridge is going high-tech.

Officials are testing a de-icing system there that uses electric sprinklers to spray antifreeze chemicals on the span's roadbed when it freezes.

The system, installed on part of the bridge in August, is the first of its kind in the city.

Transportation officials are touting it as a way to save the 115-year-old bridge from the corrosive rock salt that they use now, while allowing them to deal more quickly with icy bridge conditions.

"The biggest thing that destroys our bridges is not the traffic, it's the salt," said outgoing city Transportation Commissioner Christopher Lynn.

"What happens if we get a sudden drop in temperature at 3 in the morning? Under the sprinkler system, we can automatically take care of it."

The system will use a combination of potassium acetate, calcium magnesium acetate and water that will be sprayed from pipes a foot off the ground.

The solution, which lowers the freezing point of water, is less damaging to cars and bridges than salt because it doesn't include chloride.

Just don't get it in your eyes.

Documents prepared by the company that makes the solution, Iowa's Cryotech, warn: "This substance is slightly irritating to the eyes and could cause prolonged [days] impairment of your vision."

University of Oregon chemistry Professor Paul Engelking said the spray can leave a murky film on windshields, although it's easier on cars than salt.

But he said his main concern is that the substance could wind up inside people's cars because it will be sprayed from pipes a foot off the roadbed.

Officials said they're not worried because the chemicals will be sprayed for only 15 to 30 seconds before or during an ice-producing storm. And, they said, federal regulators are funding the $600,000 test program and have approved the system.

Said DOT spokesman Bob Leonard: "When this product is used in a controlled manner in the appropriate amounts it is considered to be safe, and the federal government would not back it if it were not."

The system is installed on 500 feet of the bridge leading to Brooklyn.

Leonard said the system is being tried on the Brooklyn Bridge because it's the only city span not under construction.

If officials are satisfied, they'll install the system along the entire length of the bridge for about $4 million -- and they'll look at putting it on all bridges.

Pub Date: 12/31/97

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