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INDOT Gets Ready For NWI Winter

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October 31, 2014 — The cold, wet weather of Friday is a reminder that winter is not far away, especially with the end of Daylight Saving Time on Sunday morning.

As the temperatures begin to drop below freezing, Indiana Department of Transportation maintenance crews in northwest Indiana will begin winter anti-icing with salt brine to make our interstates, U.S. highways and state routes as safe as possible during morning frost conditions.

“A recent customer survey found that Hoosiers’ top priorities for INDOT are maintaining our existing roads and bridges and removing snow and ice,” said INDOT Deputy Chief of Staff Bob Alderman. “INDOT is shifting resources to ensure that plowing and treating state highways and pothole patching remain the agency’s top winter priorities.”

Hiring, training drivers

Last winter, INDOT plow drivers in northwest Indiana worked alternating 12 to 16 hour shifts every day for months straight, logging 121,000 man hours – the equivalent of more than 10,000 12-hour shifts.

After losing employees due to changes in the state retirement system, INDOT is aggressively hiring and training new plow drivers. INDOT’s Northwest District is performing annual winter trainings and equipment inspections. In addition, INDOT held a job fair today at its Gary Subdistrict for 26 entry-level seasonal and full-time positions.

Salt in stock

Last winter, INDOT’s Northwest District deployed 103,000 tons of granular salt and 3.3 million gallons of salt brine. Prior to last winter, the five-year average for salt usage was roughly 68,000 tons. INDOT’s Northwest District continues to receive early deliveries of salt and has more than 46,000 tons on hand ahead in preparation for this winter.

Ongoing demand from last year’s record winter has resulted in less competition among suppliers than in prior years and salt price increases of 57 percent across the state. INDOT’s salt contract prices for northwest Indiana range from $98.39 to $102.13 per ton. More information about the state’s road salt contracts are on the IDOA website at www.in.gov/idoa/2624.htm.

“Despite the increased salt prices, our plow crews will have the materials they need prior to and during the winter to deliver our typical level of service,” Alderman said.

Realigning routes

Last winter, INDOT’s yellow plow trucks in northwest Indiana logged more than 2.1 million miles – the equivalent of 86 trips around the earth. INDOT’s Northwest District is realigning its 171 snow routes to create better efficiencies and, in some cases, adding plows to the routes that needed more help during last winter.

Federal, state and non-profit agencies across Indiana will join together this November 16-22 to mark Winter Weather Preparedness Week. That effort will urge drivers to make way for plow trucks this winter so they can do their job.

Repairing winter damage

Extreme temperature shifts did a great deal of damage to Northwest Indiana highways last year. Statewide, INDOT invested 183,000 man hours and nearly 14,000 tons of asphalt as part of the pothole blitz announced in February by Governor Mike Pence.

INDOT’s efforts to repair winter damage and preserve existing roadways continued during the warmer months after the hot mix asphalt plants reopened.

INDOT reprioritized more than $40 million in its state and federal construction program for additional pavement patching and repairs across the state. A contract focused on the district’s northern counties began in the South Bend area and has moved west to Lake and Porter Counties.

INDOT maintenance crews have also been performing chip-seal projects on rural state highways to seal off tiny cracks from water that could freeze and expand, forming potholes. Stone chips also provide improved traction for stopping during winter. National research has shown that every $1 used to preserve our pavements saves $6 to $14 in future, more disruptive repairs.

Source: INDOT LaPorte District

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