FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — While it may not feel like it right now with our current 70° stretch in November, it is Winter Weather Preparedness Week here at WANE. Once the flakes start to fly INDOT and the Fort Wayne Street Department hit the streets to make travel safe across the region.
“Snow is the top priority of the street department, to ensure that motorists are as safe as possible and that we continue to have commerce perform as regular as possible. So a lot of prework goes in,” says John Perlich, the Director of Public Information for the City of Fort Wayne.
That preparation takes place months in advance of winter. Both INDOT and the Fort Wayne Street Department use the summer season to maintain equipment, train staff on winter operations, and of course, acquire salt. This year the city of Fort Wayne has 6,000 tons of salt and 40,000 gallons of liquid brine. While INDOT has 250,000 tons of salt statewide.
In our area, INDOT and the city of Fort Wayne have different responsibilities when it comes to what streets are plowed and in what order.
“INDOT is responsible for state highways so, I-69, I-469 are good examples in the Fort Wayne area,” explains, INDOT Strategic Communications Director, Scott Manning, “We are also responsible for US routes so US-30 & US-33. Generally, if it is a numbered route INDOT is responsible, the exception to that is county roads which are numbered as well.”
“Of the 18 snow routes that we have, they are broken into Priorities 1, 2, and 3. [Priority] 1s will be the most heavily traveled city streets. We want to make sure that those areas are safe for emergency personnel to get through those areas,” explains Perlich, “We also have Priority 2s that aren’t used as much as the Priority 1s but are also are areas that are traveled pretty well and we want to make sure that those areas are taken care of.”
Priority 3 includes subdivisions and side streets, which are taken care of when more than 3 inches of snow has fallen, and after Priorities 1 and 2 are clear. You can find detailed maps of each round from the City of Fort Wayne here.
When it comes to snow removal during the pandemic, both INDOT and the City of Fort Wayne are ready in case COVID 19 requires drivers to call out sick.
Manning says INDOT has extra employees trained and ready to jump in when needed, “We prepared for that by making sure we have some members of our team that have that same winter operations training and can supplement our ranks.”
Perlich describes how Fort Wayne is prepared, “If we get into a situation that there are challenges we will be prepared for that and have contingencies in place so that we will always have enough crews out on the streets to make sure that salt and ice are taken care of.”
Even if there are fewer people on the roads, since many are still working from home during the pandemic, snow and ice removal will remain a top priority when the flakes fly.
“Regardless of how much traffic is out there, we want to have the safest possible road conditions we can have whether there are 100,000 vehicles on the road, or 10 we want to make sure that anyone who needs to be out during a winter weather event can travel safely and can reach their destination as safely as possible,” says Manning.
When the snowplows do hit the streets, make sure you are giving them their space and go slow when passing them.