Petersburg Public Works Director, Chris Cotta, stands near a tank of magnesium chloride deicer, which will be tested on local roads this winter.

The State of Alaska uses the liquid deicer, magnesium chloride, for roads it maintains in Petersburg. Now, the borough is considering using it on some other local roads because it could be cheaper than sand with less clean up.

The borough has about six miles of paved roads and spends between $65-$75,000 a year on sand, which is imported from nearby places like the Thomas Bay area.

This winter, the borough plans to test magnesium chloride on Main Street, North Nordic Drive, and Sandy Beach Road.  

Public Works Director, Chris Cotta, spoke with KFSK’s Angela Denning about the testing and how the borough maintains its roads. The conversation starts in the Public Works yard near a mountain of sand.

Cotta says if the borough decides to go with magnesium chloride it would likely cost between $7-$10,000 to set up a permanent system for spraying it.

The borough hopes to start testing the deicer with the next cold weather snap coming up.

Petersburg Public Works Director, Chris Cotta, stands in front of the borough’s sand pile. The borough spends $65-$75,000 a year on sand for roads in the winter.

Some other states have done studies on the effects of using magnesium chloride deicer on the environment. Colorado State University says it can affect nearby trees. Twenty years ago, a study for Colorado DOT showed that it doesn’t affect vegetation further than 20 yards away.