The battle to keep our roads safe and passable this winter just got a little upgrade.  Officials with the Minnesota Department of Transportation have announced that they have added additional "ice breakers" to their arsenal - just in time for the winter season.

The implements are attached to the front of snow plow trucks - and look like a giant wheel with spikes on them.  The spikes help to break up the ice in advance of the blade, so that the chunks can be plowed away from the road surface. The process allows MNDOT to clear away the ice while using considerably less salt. The agency says that even if the spikes don't break up and the blades don't plow away all of the ice on the surface, the holes that the spikes make allow what salt and solutions they end up applying to work more efficiently.

News sources show that the first of these ice breakers was bought by MNDOT in 2014.  With the new purchases this fall, there are now a total of 17 of them available to the statewide fleet.