Why Bridges Get Icy Before Roads


New York winters can be trying. Those of us who live in the Empire State contend with freezing temperatures, snowstorms, ice accumulations, and more.

After a significant snowfall, sleet, or ice storm, you’ve probably heard weather forecasters caution drivers of icy bridges. If you’ve ever wondered why bridges get icy before roads, read on.

One reason bridges freeze first is because bridges are more exposed to freezing air temperatures. Cold air exists both above and below the bridge. This assault of freezing temperatures from every angle contributes to surface freezing. While roads also contend with cold air above the surface, the earth beneath roads is better able to retain heat.

Another reason is that bridges are usually made of steel and concrete, which are materials that conduct heat. As such, any heat on the bridge is brought to the surface and quickly dissipates when it is exposed to freezing air. Roads, however, are generally made of asphalt, which does not conduct heat well. Therefore, the heat on the road stays trapped below the surface for much longer. This helps prevent, or at least slow down, surface freezing.

However, heated bridges may be in our future. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has researched and released a report on “Heated Bridge Technology”. Perhaps increased funding for bridge infrastructure projects could eventually make heated bridges a reality in New York.

Until then, remember to slow down and exercise caution when driving over bridges in freezing weather.

Hate Shoveling? Snow Problem!

Windshield snow cover
Snow Bully


Garant sleigh shovel


With winter on the horizon, it’s time to prepare for everyone’s favorite holiday activity: shoveling snow. Rather than soldiering on through blizzards with a shovel and a bad back, why not make the job easier with a few easy tips?

Before the snow falls, take preemptive action. Clear your yard of anything that you don’t want to get destroyed by snow (or even snow removal), such as hoses, decorations, or dog tie-outs. Stake out garden beds or any portions of your yard that contain elements that cannot be brought inside or stored in a shed. This will prevent accidental snow buildup when it comes time to shovel and dump snow. A little home surveying goes a long way!

If you know snow is imminent and want to lessen how much clearing you’ll have to do, consider buying a few waterproof tarps. These can be placed over sidewalks, walkways, and even cars to help protect their surfaces and decrease post-snowfall clearing. Remember to weigh the tarps down with stones or bricks, or to tie them down if they're being used to cover your car. After the snow has fallen, remove the tarp to reveal a clean walkway or car underneath. It may require a little shoveling to lighten the tarp’s load, but it will provide a protective barrier nonetheless.

If your shovel tosses are getting lighter because snow keeps sticking, consider using a lubricant. WD-40, petroleum jelly, or even some cooking spray can help prevent snow from sticking to your shovel, allowing for more successful scoops. Family Handyman recommends wiping down your tools before storing them to prevent rust buildup and to increase each tool’s longevity.

Rather than using a standard, straight-handled shovel or a snow-blower reliant on gas, consider upgrading to something more ergonomically- and ecologically-friendly. There are a variety to choose from, such as Garant’s sleigh shovels designed to scoop and push while lessening the strain on your back, or even the Snow Bully, which uses a set of wheels to act as a small snow plow. If you’re not ready to let go of the snow shovel that has been passed down through your family for generations, consider getting an attachment for it that will still help lessen the strain on your back, such as an eziMate, which creates an additional point of leverage with a detachable handle.

If you've pinched a nerve and it’s flurrying outside, break out the leaf blower to take care of some light dustings. Additionally, a wet/dry vacuum such as a Shop-Vac can be turned into a makeshift snowblower by attaching the hose to the exhaust, pointing, and blowing the snow away.

While enjoying a well-deserved rest inside, be sure to keep an eye on the snowfall. Although it may seem irritating to continuously trudge outdoors to shovel, it’s easier to move light, fluffy snow every few hours than having to somehow lift packed blocks of ice out of your driveway.