CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake City Council last night approved the purchase of a roadway ice breaker to be utilized in certain situations on the city’s streets. The ice breaker would be mounted to the front of an end-loader and be used strategically in the community when needed. City Administrator Scott Flory says the city recently explored purchasing mechanical ice breaking equipment as an alternative for reducing or eliminating the use of salt and sand as a primary de-icing agent on specified streets and routes.

Flory says ice removal in near zero temperatures is almost impossible to do with a snow plow blade.  “Those pieces of equipment, while they’re what we use for that, that’s not what they were designed to do. Often times that results in expensive repairs being made to those pieces of equipment because that’s not what they were meant to be doing. I think we had about $20,000 we had to pay on a motor grader this last year, and we do the best you can, but I think this a way to maybe be a little bit more innovative in how we can tackle ice here in this part of the country, as they’ve used this in other parts of the country more effectively.”

Flory says the ice breaker could potentially reduce the amount of chemicals draining into the watershed of the lake.  “The watershed here is significantly urban, so when we do our salting and sanding, even though we try to minimize or marginalize the amount of salt and sand that we put down, we still have to apply it where there’s ice, and that includes the watershed. Hopefully this is one step further, a piece of equipment like this in our tool box, of getting us to a position where we would move even further away from having to do salt and sand in the watershed.”

Flory says the equipment will be used as needed to break up areas of iced-over roads and not on a constant basis.  It’s not a piece of equipment that you are going to see running up and down the streets for miles. This is something that generally would be utilized strategically in spot locations, areas where the sun doesn’t cooperate with us, we don’t get that melt from the Mother Nature on it, so I think there’s a lot of places that we be able to use this.”

The council unanimously approved the purchase of the ice breaker from Ultramech of Loveland Colorado for $33,680 plus freight. Click on the video above to see a demonstration of the ice breaker.