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State experiments with highway icebreaker

Posted: December 11, 2013 - 8:06am

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Department of Transportation is testing a piece of equipment designed to crush ice on highways.

The tool, a Raiko Icebreaker, was used for two weeks on Fairbanks roads and is headed to Anchorage for two weeks of tests, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

“It’s definitely a tool we’re looking forward to using more,” said Dan Schacher, the state Department of Transportation’s maintenance supervisor in Fairbanks.

The icebreaker is made by Finnish company Sah-Ko Oy. It attaches to the front of a plow truck, looks like a long tube and crushes ice with rows of metal spikes.

The Transportation Department now scrapes ice with serrated grader blades and underbelly plows.

Schacher said the tool did well on Fairbanks’ Johansen Expressway and other high-priority roads and did best on thick ice.

“The thinner ice, it just mixes it up a bit, but the thick ice — it’ll just shatter it,” he said.

The 9-foot-wide, 3,800-pound device costs about $45,000, about twice as much as regular department snow plows.

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