High Country Roads Winter 2021-22 Preparations: Beets Beat Winter In Boone, NCDOT Ready Countywide

Last Updated on January 2, 2022 1:03 pm

Local NCDOT officials and the Town of Boone Public Works Department are once again ready for Old Man Winter and its impact on local roads. Not only are these experienced officials on top of what could happen each winter, but the material and crews are also ready to go too.

Watauga County

Recently the Watauga NCDOT office conducted their annual “Snow Day” for DOT employees and DOT contractors.

16 NCDOT trucks and 12 contracted trucks will take on the task of keeping roads as clear as possible this winter. All 28 trucks have inbox spreaders and snowplows. And if conditions call for it, 3 motor-graders, 1 snowblower, and other equipment are also available.

Crews begin clearing and treatment operations on “bare pavement routes” first. These routes are the main highways in the county that carries the volume of traffic.

Bare pavement Map: NCDOT.

Between 400-500 tons of salt is used in Watauga County in a 24 hour period when conditions warrant, that is according to previous reporting by with now-retired Watauga County DOT Maintenance Engineer Kevin Whittington.

Travis Chrisawn, the current Watauga County NCDOT Maintenance Engineer, tells that Watauga DOT has in excess of 5,000 tons of salt in inventory and more can be brought in as needed during the season.

Video: Kenneth Reece/ October 13, 2021 during annual “Snow Day” for NCDOT employees and NCDOT contractors.


In Boone beets will once again help beat winter road issues, at least in part.

For the 10th winter season in a row beet juice will expand the efforts to keep streets treated for motorists. The beet juice is bought in loads of 4,500 gallons and will be mixed with salt brine at a 70/30 brine to juice ratio. Using the mixture allows melting as snow falls, and gives Town of Boone crews more time to get on their routes to apply the dry salt and slag.

Beet juice with salt brine can be applied at about half the rate of salt brine by itself. Salt brine alone is applied at 40-60 gallons per mile, however using the 70/30 blend it can be applied at 20-30 gallons per mile. Salt brine will melt down to 10 degrees but the beet juice added will melt down to -20 degrees.

Another big advantage is the beet juice mix will stay on the road up to 72 hours after application compared to 24 to 48 hours for the salt brine. With the beet juice mix the corrosion factor also lowers by 76%. The main culprit in corrosion is caused by the dust off just the brine mix when it dries.

Again this winter season Boone will be pre-wetting the dry salt and slag, with the juice, to help keep the dry material to stay on the pavement. By applying dry material by itself the loss is almost 40% to bouncing off pavement to the shoulder of the road. Todd Moody, Deputy Public Works Director for Boone, says that crews will pre-wet loads at a rate of 10 gallons of brine per ton of salt to help prevent bounce and splatter and start activation.

Boone began using beet juice for the first time in the winter of 2011 and was one of the first towns in North Carolina to do so.

Moody also tells that the town has close to 1000 tons of salt in storage and a purchase order for an additional 1000 tons if needed. 200 tons of slag (a very fine gravel material) is on hand and 2,000 more tons is on order as or if needed. Public Works mixes salt to slag, 2 parts slag to 1 part salt, and makes brine as needed out of the salt they have.

The Boone Public Works Department maintains 43 miles of road, or 86 lane miles, using:

(5) 4×4 snow plows
(2) one ton snow plows
(1) Motor Grader
(4) small tractors for sidewalks
other various equipment, loaders, backhoes if needed.

NOTE – The below data is from previous reporting by


455 miles

16 NCDOT plows, 1 contract plow

4 NCDOT motor graders, 3 contract motor graders

800 tons of salt stored


805 miles

17 NCDOT plows, 9 contract plows

7 NCDOT motor graders, 7 contract motor graders

2,500 tons of salt stored


337 miles

13 NCDOT plows, 8 contract plows

5 motor graders, 2 contract motor graders

6,000 tons of salt stored


692 miles

13 NCDOT plows, 10 contract plows

2 motor graders, 7 motor graders

1,950 tons of salt available


1,138 miles

34 NCDOT plows, 14 contract trucks

5 NCDOT motor graders

2,200 tons of salt


573 miles

20 NCDOT plows, 12 contract plows

4 NCDOT motor graders, 2 contract grader

6,000 tons of salt stored


1,329 miles

44 NCDOT plows, 7 contract plows

8 NCDOT motor graders, 9 contract grader

1,800 tons of salt stored


714 miles

16 NCDOT plows, 8 contract plows

3 NCDOT motor graders, 6 contract grader

800 tons of salt stored

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