INDIANAPOLIS — More than 6,000 square miles of the metro area is expected to eventually be impacted by snow and ice that will cause the Indy Snow Force team around-the-clock work. After last year’s mild winter and forecasts ranging from something similar for this year to something much more typical, the team is readying for whatever comes.
“We have 375 snow routes and 180 drivers ready and trained, so we can run 24/7,” said Lesley Malone, newly appointed public information officer for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works.
“After each snow event we kind of do a breakdown and measure how much salt is used for an event, based on inches,” she explained. “Salt doesn’t really go bad, so we just take what we have leftover and just try to project in a traditional year what we’d need.”
Malone said each truck will carry between two to three tons of salt, and she said that ice poses much more of a challenge each year than snow. A sand/salt mixture will be used in ice situations as it gives drivers more traction.
“Ice is hard because there’s not as much we can do,” Malone said. “With snow, we can presalt and remove it, but with ice we have to wait for a de-icer to take effect and it’s not easy to remove completely with our plows.”
Malone said winter is usually on the minds of the department long before it is for residents. All drivers with the department have gone through a yearly master plow training which is done for both experienced and new hires. She said preparations began back in early fall.
“I would say the biggest challenge is making sure we’re all staying alert, because we’re all going 24/7,” she said. “When it’s six inches or more of snow, we have contractors that go into those residential areas so we can focus on the main roadways and secondary roads.”