Kosciusko County Highway is taking the steps necessary to get ready for winter, with approximately 27 drivers staffed to cover the 26 snow routes. According to Kosciusko County Highway Assistant Superintendent Steve Moriarty, training began about a month ago.
The staff’s seven new drivers were taught how to properly utilize the plows, while veteran drivers did “dry” practice runs on their routes, marking hazards like bumps and sharp turns to be mindful of while working in winter conditions. Each driver has a route, usually about 50 miles long, and no more than two driver’s are off at a time.
There was also a winter operations open house for media on Oct. 22 at the Fort Wayne Division of the Indiana Department of Transportation. Several different kinds of snow plow equipment were on display.
Last year was one of the toughest winters yet for the department as a whole, with the weather taking a severe tole on their resources and labor force. They covered 1.7 million service miles statewide, with a total operating budget of $10.25 million to cover salt, equipment, over-time and diesel fuel.
The Department of Transportation’s Fort Wayne District (Northeast Indiana) utilized 163 snow plow trucks for 141 snow routes. Driver’s cover 4,800 lane miles within the district at all hours of the day, with mechanics always available to assist them.
The district has 19 salt storage barns spread throughout its 17-county area. According to Toni Mayo, a representative from the department’s Fort Wayne District, workers must now be loading-certified in order to ensure safety and efficiency when restocking the trucks with salt. Salt costs for the district during the 2013-14 winter were $53 per ton. For the 2014-15 winter, costs are expected to jump to around $102-$105 per ton.
Just like the Fort Wayne District Headquarters, Kosciusko County Highway puts all it’s vehicles through a series of trials and tests to ensure that all facets of the vehicles are in working order and capable of standing up to the challenges presented by the snow, ice, and wind.