Even the Wall Street Journal has taken notice of Washington DOT’s innovative, home brew road de-icer:
The mix consists of molasses from a local supplier, calcium chloride and brine donated by a local dairy company. Mr. Simonsen had been experimenting with the right proportions and ingredients for several years, blending them in a 1,000-gallon vat and dispersing the liquid with the same salt trucks. He first used it last year on a busy mountain pass in southwest Washington.
This season, the state’s department of transportation has been spreading the solution throughout 11 counties, up from one last winter, with the help of a new automated system that can churn out 5,000 gallons of it in an hour. It has come in handy during a particularly heavy winter.
DOT is brewing the concoction at a Darigold farm in Chehalis, and the savings to taxpayers have been significant… only about $0.48/gallon for the home brew mixture compared to $1.30/gallon for commercially available de-icer. Transportation officials are new considering building production facilities in each of the state’s six regions.
But wait… is de-icer production really the proper role of government? Isn’t the private sector always more efficient than the public sector, and doesn’t this amount to unfair, taxpayer subsidized competition to the hard working folks in the de-icing business? Perhaps all you free marketeers out there can explain this to me?