Frozen brine creates challenge for Lancaster County road crews

10/11 rides along with a Lancaster County plow driver as he clears miles of roads.
Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 4:20 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2022 at 7:03 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It wasn’t the snow, but the below-freezing temperatures that gave the Lancaster County road crews a challenge on Thursday.

Temps reached about -13° in Lincoln Thursday morning.

The brine mixture they use was frozen in the tanks, which hasn’t happened before. But because there wasn’t as much snowfall, the understaffed crews were able to keep up.

“If this was a four or five-inch snow, and we had every piece of equipment out on the road right now, it would actually be short two people and three pieces of equipment total,” Ron Bohaty, Lancaster County Engineering Department Superintendent said.

Lancaster County crews have 1,400 miles of road to maintain in these winter conditions.

Clayton Busboom was one of the 60 workers out clearing county roads on Thursday.

Clayton doesn’t usually drive a snow plow. With more experience and expertise, he’s often revving up a motor grader. But because of staffing shortages, he fits in where he has to.

Clayton drove plows for three years in Maine, battling storms that dropped as much as two and a half feet of snow. He says he’s had some close calls in the past - from hitting a moose to sliding off the road.

He’s been working as an engineer for Lancaster County for a couple of years now.

“I look forward to it. I like doing this. I like plowing snow. I like being busy.”

Clayton is CPR and first-aid certified. He says he’s stopped to assist drivers stuck in ditches in Maine and Nebraska.

He says drivers need to slow down in winter weather and give plows enough room to work. Plows often ride along the center line to plow as much of the road as possible.

“See I’m right on the center line here. It will look like I’m heading right toward the truck, and I don’t move unless I absolutely have to.”

The county said snow removal has gone smoothly, other than the frozen brine.

As of 5 p.m., they estimated they’d cleared 600 miles of county road.

But as crews continue to work through Friday, make sure to drive slowly and give plenty of room to plows at work.