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Some Edmonton drivers are complaining about road conditions following a vote by city council in the fall to discontinue use of calcium chloride, and stick to sand, snow plows, and salt.

A city councillor says not even calcium chloride would have helped improve Edmonton road conditions after a heavy snowfall and cold spell.

Ward 9 Coun. Tim Cartmell, who voted last fall to scrap the chemical, said calcium chloride wouldn’t have made a difference on recent road conditions given the snowfall.

“It’s not effective when it gets this cold. It essentially hits the ground and might melt stuff for a brief moment – and then it all freezes it makes things worse quite frankly,” he told CTV News Edmonton.

In the 54 hours between 6 a.m. on Dec. 8 and noon on Friday, 548 crashes had been reported to Edmonton Police Service.

Twenty-four people were injured in the incidents, including two students and a civilian driver when a sedan and a school bus collided on Thursday.

“It’s really bad out there. And I think they need to take a different approach to this road cleaning technique that they’re using,” commented motorist Wally Fakhreddine.

In a statement to CTV News Edmonton, the city said crews had been "working around the clock," applying sand multiple times to intersections, hills and roads. 

"During snow events and extreme cold temperatures like we're currently experiencing, crews expect to disperse thousands of tonnes of sand on City roadways, and this will continue throughout the weekend and next week's cold snap." 

However, Fakhreddine said: “I’m no expert, but I think the calcium chloride helped, to be honest with you. In my opinion, they’re in worse condition this year."

Another driver, Stacey Castor, agreed.

“I preferred the calcium chloride because it made the roads a lot safer,” he commented.

“Yeah it might have done a little bit of damage to the trucks on the bottom or the vehicles, but I agreed with them using that calcium.”

In response to public complaints about Edmonton’s road conditions, Cartmell added it wasn’t realistic to expect roads to be perfectly cleaned.

“The idea we’d get the roads to the same condition they are in the middle of July within a day or two within a snowstorm and a deep freeze is simply not practical,” he said.

Currently, the city uses sand, snow plows and salt to keep streets cleared in order of priority. Cartmell said he supports reexamining the city’s former road-clearing techniques, including mixing salt and sand.

The roads will be clear of snow next time city council is set to discuss Edmonton’s winter street-clearing plans in June.

Is the @CityofEdmonton going to out ANY sand down on the ice rinks that are our intersections ??? I just saw two accidents on 178st :(.

The City can do much better @AndrewKnack - not sure why it's handled so poorly evey snowfall. Every. Darn. Snowfall. #yeg

— Dewayna (@dewayna44) January 9, 2020

Typically the process is to clear the roads of snow before applying sand and if additional snow is expected, sanding prior to the snowfall is quite ineffective. The other challenge is the effectiveness of sand (or any solution) in temperatures below -20. They will be and may have

— Andrew Knack (@AndrewKnack) January 10, 2020

already put down sand now but the other issue that comes up is that it doesn’t take much to have the sand pushed out of the main driving lanes. At speeds of 50km/h or more, it typically takes about 8-13 vehicles driving over sand to push the majority of it out of where our tires

— Andrew Knack (@AndrewKnack) January 10, 2020

With a report from CTV News Edmonton’s Nicole Weisberg