Cold temps, blowing snow challenging drivers

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 12, 2016) - Plow and salt truck drivers for the Indianapolis Department of Public works continued their third consecutive day of 12-hour shifts Tuesday, working to clear snow and ice from city and county roadways.

“The biggest challenge today is going to be the wind blowing,” said plow driver Ricky Wyde II.  “And then I know the temperatures are going to drop really low tonight, so I have to try to get up as much as I possibly can.”

By Tuesday afternoon, most primary streets around Indianapolis had been cleared of snow and ice.  Secondary roads were also getting attention.  DPW had rotating crews of about 80 drivers changing at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.  Around lunchtime, drivers were beginning to focus on turn lanes, which were still covered in brown, slushy snow.

Residential streets were not being plowed since the city has not received 6 inches of snow.

Wyde’s route took him from DPW’s downtown garage on West Street into the southeastern portion of Marion County.  There, county roads were in worse shape as open areas allowed strong winds to blow snow back on to roads which had already been cleared.

“When the wind is blowing so bad and it’s a dry snow, it makes it real difficult to see,” Wyde said.  “When you’re breaking that stuff up with your plow and it all comes back up on you, so you have to drive extra cautious.”

Wyde said the blowing snow required county roads to be constantly monitored.  He strategically plowed snow in the direction of the wind so it wouldn’t be back on the roadway again.

“It doesn’t go me any good to throw it back this way because the wind is just going to throw it right back,” Wide said.

Wyde said heavier downtown traffic both helps and hurts efforts to clear the streets.  More traffic helps to break up salt and work it into the pavement, which melts the ice and snow.  That becomes important because DPW plows don’t put metal to pavement like INDOT trucks on the interstates.  DPW plows are on casters with a rubber strip on the bottom because of the manholes on city streets.

But that same heavy traffic can be a challenge to DPW drivers.

“You have to be extra cautious and watch for them because people will cut right in front of you,” he said.  “I think people think if they get stuck behind you it’s going to take forever.  So they’re always in a hurry, they want to pull in front of you.”

DPW was planning to continue their rotation of 12-hour shifts into Tuesday night when temperatures and wind chills were expected to drop dangerously low.

If you see an area of roadway that needs attention, you can call the DPW Dispatch line at (317) 327-1620, or the Mayors Action Center at (317) 327-4MAC.