Trucks, salt get inspections, drivers check routes before ‘first snowflake’

Indiana, Indianapolis authorities prepare for snowfall on roads

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Department of Transportation kicked off winter preparations Tuesday by pulling out all its trucks for inspections.

In the Indianapolis area, INDOT has to get 60 trucks ready to hit the road for snow and ice. Across the state, more than 1,000 of the big yellow trucks have to go through a full inspection each year to assure they are ready for winter.

“They are used every time it snows. You see them out. They are very visible, and we had to make sure they were ready to go when that first snowflake falls,” INDOT spokeswoman Mallory Duncan said.

Sarah Doyle, INDOT fleet administrator, said, “We are checking under the hood and under the truck. We are making sure all the lines are good, that nothing is leaking. We are checking all the batteries and all the cables and everything that goes along with that.”

The part on the truck that crews say see’s the most wear and tear from year to year are the brakes.

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Doyle said, “We want to be sure that our trucks stay on the road when we need them and we don’t want them to go down. The big issues can take a long time in the shop to repair, and we need our drivers on the road to make sure the roads are clear for everyone.”

INDOT driver Chris Lawson said, “You don’t want to break down in the middle of while you are out plowing because then you have a truck that is absolutely worthless.”

INDOT is stocking up on salt to put into those trucks. “We are the most prepared with salt that we have ever been. We have 4,500 tons of salt in that salt barn right now,” Duncan said.

The amount currently in the salt barn is not close to how much salt will be used throughout the entire season. “We have a couple weekends of really bad weather every single day, that salt will be gone,” Duncan said.

Indianapolis Public Works has ‘mock snow fight’

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works also got ready for winter weather Tuesday with its annual “mock snow fight” in which salt truck drivers checked their routes.

Seven snow trucks were added to the Public Works fleet in 2019, so the department has a total of 110 trucks with more than 14,000 tons of salt on hand.

Public Works also will take on a news responsibility this winter: IndyGo’s Red Line for transit buses. The barriers along the Red Line will be removed as winter approaches to allow snowplows through.

Public Works Director Dan Parker said, “We have 341 people total in DPW that are going to be committed to working winter operations, so although the public is probably not ready for winter, DPW is.”

People can watch real-time updates of Indianapolis Public Works’ drivers on routes on the Indy Snow Force Viewer webpage.