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Preparing for winter

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UNDER:Inspectors check out all parts of their plows, including the underbody, to make sure everything is in working order before winter strikes.
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HOOD:INDOT crews inspected snow plow enginges in Wabash last Wednesday.
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by ANDREW CHRISTMAN - achristman@wabashplaindealer.com

Preparations are already underway for the winter season.

Last Wednesday, Indiana Department of Transportation crews held an annual vehicle inspection to ensure that all 14 vehicles in Wabash are ready for inclement weather, whenever it arrives. Recently, the jet stream dipped down from Canada and dropped unseasonable snow out west. 

“Their equipment has been sitting in, for lack of a better word, storage since last winter,” said Nichole Hacha-Thomas, media relations director for INDOT’s Fort Wayne district. “This gives us a cushion because you won’t see a significant snow until late October or early November. If there is something wrong with it, we can repair that in good time.”

The Wabash INDOT unit had spent an estimated two weeks prior to the inspection working on its trucks and equipment in order to be fully prepared. Any deficiencies in the equipment would see repairs begin immediately following the inspection.

Hacha-Thomas said once the snow does begin to fall, INDOT is responsible for clearing state and federal roads in the county, specifically U.S. 24, Ind. 9, Ind. 16, Ind. 3, Ind. 124, Ind. 218, Ind. 105, Ind.114 and Ind. 5. Huntington County recieves help from both the Wabash unit and surrounding units, since it does not have an INDOT hub locally. 

“We always encourage people to know who is responsible for their roadway,” Hacha-Thomas said. “Our routes take about two to three hours to complete in entirety, they’re about 60 miles long.”

Huntington County’s highway department is responsible for clearing all county roads, and the City of Huntington’s street department is charged with clearing roads within city limits.

When snow begins to fall, Hacha-Thomas said INDOT has four stages for removal. The stage begins with monitoring the weather, and in winter months a daily call is put out to discuss the forecast with the Fort Wayne district’s units. A secondary part of monitoring is having several units go out early to determine when is best to call out additional resources.

Once the severity of the snowfall has been determined, Hacha-Thomas said INDOT’s priority becomes clearing at least one lane in each direction to ensure traffic can move. After a storm has passed, the third stage of clean up begins, which involves cleaning the rest of the roadways and turnways.

“Every snowstorm is unique, and you never know what is going to happen,” Hacha-Thomas said.

Along with inspections in the district’s other units, INDOT drivers will be going through annual snow and ice training for proper snow removal. Drivers will be required to become certified on their routes before the winter months as well.

INDOT unit inspections began at the beginning of the month and will continue through Oct. 12.