INDIANAPOLIS - It's been a mild winter across Indiana, and while Hoosiers know there's always a chance for a spring snow storm, the lack of snow over the last few months has lowered INDOT's winter operation spending by $14.7 million compared to the recent average.
INDOT spokesperson Nathan Riggs said the biggest issue his crews have dealt with this winter is ice. Back in mid-December, ice brought Interstate 465 to a halt for several hours.
During the 2016-2017 winter, INDOT workers across the state poured 164,700 tons of all salt on Indiana roadways, such as U.S. highways, state roads and interstates. Over the last five years, on average 288,562 tons of salt were used.
Workers in that time worked an average of 307,853 hours each winter cycle. This year, that number's down to 147,221 hours worked.
With those two statistics, it's no wonder the state has only spent $20.5 million on winter operational costs, compared to an average of $35.2 million.
Despite the lack of snow, crews still have had plenty on their plate.
"Drastic temperature swings, going from very low temperatures to very high temperatures, those types of freeze-thaw, tend to lead to potholes, crackings in the roadways, pothole formation," said Riggs. "When our crews aren't out battling winter storms, plowing and treating roadways throughout the winter months, many of them are out patching potholes. It's Indiana, we tend to have those freeze-thaw cycles and battling potholes is a continuous operation."
Riggs added that pothole patching has already begun for 2017. INDOT will invest at least $3.8 million in addressing potholes and that number can go up as more consistent warmer weather approaches.
Salt leftover from this year will be kept for next winter which means INDOT will need less to restock their salt barns.
"I wouldn't call those savings, the money we don't have to spend on buying salt for next year we can quickly invest that money in pothole patching," said Riggs. "Our maintenance crews are getting ready for preservation initiatives. That's crack sealing, chip sealing, spot paving, and things like that that can help prevent potholes from forming next year and beyond."
Many potholes that INDOT addresses come from tips from Hoosiers. To report a pothole near you click here.