Tricky forecast proves challenging for road crews trying to stay ahead of winter storm

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A tricky forecast for Wednesday's winter storm will prove challenging for crews trying to treat the roads.

Because rain is coming ahead of the snow in some areas, crews can't treat the roads with brine like they normally would because the rain would wash it away.

“Where we would typically be out brining roads right now, we can’t really do that with the rain coming in,” said Hamilton County Highway Spokesperson, Brandi Tarner.  “It would would wash all the brine away.  So it’s kind of doing away with what we had just done.”

Instead, Hamilton County road crews planned to strictly use salt to treat area roads as precipitation moved into central Indiana.

INDOT spokesperson Mallory Duncan said their methods for treating roadways around Indianapolis could change throughout the evening.

“We don’t know if it’ll come down in snow or if it’ll come down in rain or what have you,” Duncan said.  “So that will change our plan as the night wears on.”

“We have brined on some of the bridge decks and some of the ramps,” Duncan continued.  “Things that get a little slippery faster than others.  Hopefully that will keep the slick spots to a minimum.”

Duncan said INDOT has a full callout of 60 plow and salt truck drivers patrolling and treating roads.  Indianapolis Department of Public Works also has a full callout, with 80 drivers patrolling and treating Indianapolis streets.

DPW Spokesperson Ben Easley said drivers were expected to start salting roadways Wednesday afternoon.  

“Crews will remain activated at full strength through at least Friday evening, according to current planning,” Easley said in a statement.

“We’re looking at a wide range,” Duncan said.  “Our drivers are prepared to plow slush, plow snow, drop salt, whatever they need to do depending on what comes down.”

State and local agencies are urging caution for drivers as they head home Wednesday evening.

“Don’t try to beat our trucks, don’t try to beat the weather by speeding,” Duncan said.  “You never know, with this kind of precipitation, you never know where the slick spots will be.”

“Motorists are reminded to drive with care in wintry conditions, especially on bridge overpasses and locations known to get slippery,” Easley’s statement said.  “Allow plenty of clearance near other vehicles, and keep at least three car lengths of space between your vehicle and DPW trucks.”

“We just ask that they slow down a little bit,” Tarner said.  “If you see one of our trucks out there, don’t get too close.  They’re going to be spreading salt.”

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