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DPW feels strain of historic winter, comments on salt supplies

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INDIANAPOLIS — It was another nasty commute for many central Indiana drivers Tuesday.

“It’s been pretty sloppy and sloshy all around,” said Kevin Steele. “I had a hard time coming down Meridian this morning. Some of the lanes were clear and some of the lanes weren’t. It took me about an extra half an hour to get to work.”

Drivers are tired of the snow and Department of Public Works drivers are just plain tired. They’ve been working 12-hour shifts since New Year’s Eve.

DPW has spent more than $5 million already this season. A big chunk of that goes toward salt.

“Right now we do have a sufficient supply, but it is a concern,” said Lesley Gordon.

They’ve already spread 34,000 tons of salt, when they typically use 33,000 in an entire season.

But Gordon says you shouldn’t panic if you see any of their barns empty.

“We have seven barns and it’s very possible a particular barn may not be stocked,” said Gordon. “We do have sufficient salt for now. It is a concern that we are looking at and we will continue to coordinate with other vendors as well as our current vendor to make sure that we can maintain our roads safety.”

Ninety DPW drivers are assigned to hit the roads each shift, but that’s not possible at this point. Only 81 trucks made it out during the day on Tuesday.

“We are very fortunate to have 73 brand new trucks since 2008, so that has improved and that does help with the maintenance, but running 12-hour shifts nonstop is definitely hard on vehicles,” said Gordon. “We do have a wonderful fleet service department that maintains them, but it’s a challenge.”

DPW is responsible for main and secondary roads. The drivers also work on potholes and maintenance during breaks in the snow.