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Worth its salt in winter

March 1st, 2016 / By: / Projects

Northern Salt’s new tension fabric structure in St. Paul, Minn., holds 10,000 tons of salt to deice roadways, which the company sells to counties, cities, townships and commercial businesses throughout the region. Photo: Legacy Building Solutions
Northern Salt’s new tension fabric structure in St. Paul, Minn., holds 10,000 tons of salt to deice roadways, which the company sells to counties, cities, townships and commercial businesses throughout the region. Photo: Legacy Building Solutions

Surviving winter in Minnesota, where annual snowfalls can exceed 80-plus inches, requires tons of salt each year to keep the roadways clear of ice and snow. One of the challenges is storing the salt in sufficient quantities to be used at a moment’s notice. When Northern Salt, a St. Paul, Minn.-based supplier of commercial and industrial deicing material, needed a new storage structure, the company chose a fabric solution, in part because of its ability to resist the highly corrosive properties of salt.

Northern Salt looked to Legacy Building Solutions, South Haven, Minn., to build a 12,800-square-foot tension fabric structure. Legacy began with a hot-dip galvanized solid steel frame, which lasts longer in a corrosive environment than the open web trusses traditionally used in fabric structures. The building also features above-grade piers and precast concrete walls that increase storage capacity by reducing the pressure of the salt on the fabric. Because the walls are modular, they can be reconfigured, and also allow the fabric to stop a few feet above ground, which saves money and invites airflow, crucial in corrosive environments. Legacy used NovaShield™ 26 mils 15-ounce polyethylene FR fabric for the walls and roof, vented with mesh soffits and Schaefer roof vents.

Northern Salt’s product is delivered by rail car to a large pit next to the storage structure. Using extra-strength trusses for support, Legacy designed a conveyor system that hoists the salt from the pit to the building. The structure, more cost-efficient than a traditional building, took just ten days to construct.

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