It looks like dirt, but it is called Magnesium Chloride. It is going to be taking the place of what you see every year, the rock salt the city puts on the roads for the snow and the ice, but rock salt is very coarse and harsh.
The Magnesium Chloride is very soft, it almost feels like sand and it is a lot easier on the roads. The city plans on saving millions in the long haul on road repairs that result from damage by the rock salt. Also, Magnesium Chloride is a lot easier on your car, and it is actually good for vegetation, because it is all natural.
The downside it costs about 10 to 15 times more than the rock salt does. The city reallocated about $30,000 to buy the new compound. However, the city plans on making that money back within a year on what they save from road repair costs.