City plow technology limits sand overuse - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

City plow technology limits sand overuse

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The City of La Crosse Streets and Highways Department is installing new technology in their snow plows to limit waste and protect the environment.

They're called electronic spreader controls and limit salt, sand and brine distribution.

"It's a lot better for everybody," said Char Wegner, a city plow driver using the electronic spreader controls.

"It just drops the salt in a small pattern and then it bounces out. And cars will take that salt and move it along throughout the rest of the street," she explained.

It's relatively new technology that automatically limits the amount of material coming out of the spreader based on lane width and the plow's speed.

"(The city's salt shed) was full when we started this fall. And they actually emptied it half way and we had more salt hauled in because of all the snow we've been having," said Heavy Equipment Mechanic Ron Heller.

During an average snowfall, he said he loads each truck with 10 to 12 yards of salt, three times a day. Switching the plows over to the new technology might reduce that.

"It's supposed to cut the consumption or usage of the salt by like 30 to 35 percent," Heller said.

If the plow stops moving, so does the salt distribution. That wasn't the case with the old technology.

"There'd be a pile of salt on the street that cars would have to run over," Wegner said.

That also means less runoff into the River and less road wear.

"The taxpayers see it because we're not spending as much money on salt and their cars probably aren't as white as they usually are," Wegner said.

But when the roads are white, a little salt can now go a long way.

The Streets and Highways Department said they install two to three electronic spreader controls a year.

Currently, about 10 plows are equipped with the technology.

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