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Drivers weigh benefits, problems with anti-skid material in Colorado Springs

Mix of gravel, salt provides traction for drivers

Drivers weigh pros cons of antiskid...

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Some drivers in Colorado Springs are expressing concern about a common tool for local street and road crews: anti-skid material, which is a mixture of sand and salt that is spread to provide traction.

Drivers said the sand, when left down too long, is kicked up by passing vehicles and damages windshields, costing them money.

Don Coyhis said pebbles in the material that are kicked up by traffic may be responsible for shattering the rear windshield of his car.

"All of a sudden, I heard this loud pop," he said.  It sounded like a shotgun.  It scared me.  I looked in my rearview mirror and could see the window shattering."

That's an extreme example.  More commonly, drivers complain of chipped or cracked windshields.

"I have to get chip repairs or a new windshield," said Tom Rhode.  "Several times a year for each.  I get them almost as often as I get an oil change."

The second storm of the week led to brisk business at Auto Glass Now, a windshield repair shop near Interstate 25 and Fillmore Street in Colorado Springs.

"When a rock is coming at you from a car, it's going to chip or break glass," said manager Rhonda Gershmel.  We want customers to bring their windshields in and try to save them as long as they can."

Gershmel said the shop hasn't been overly busy because of what is generally a dry winter so far.

"People tend to wait a while," she said.  "Once we get a few storms, that brings them in."

Corey Farkas, the city's manager of operations and maintenance, said workers start removing the material as soon as possible after a storm.

"It generally takes us a week to get it done," he said.  "But it's a much slower process than applying it.  We have eight street sweepers covering nearly 200 lane miles, and they drive slowly to make sure we clean up as much of the material as we can."

While some drivers want city crews to remove the material sooner, Farkas said crews won't stop using it.

"We try to use more (liquid) salts," he said.  "But they aren't always effective, depending on the strength of a storm.  Anti-skid is the best thing for providing traction to drivers."

Workers dispose of the used material in a landfill after collecting it.

Because of a storm expected overnight Monday, the city will cease cleanup operations during the President's Day weekend and resume as soon as possible after that storm.

"We hope drivers will be patient and understanding with us," Farkas said.

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