GARY│Calling this winter “one of the most brutal in recent memory,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence on Friday announced a strategic blitz to address a record or near-record amount of potholes on state roads and highways throughout the state.
Pence joined Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Karl Browning at INDOT’s Gary subdistrict to detail the state’s post-weather road repair plan.
“I’ve lived all my life in the state of Indiana and I cannot remember a winter this bad since 1978,” Pence said. “Potholes range from a headache to a nuisance and in some cases an outright obstruction to economic commerce.”
Calling it a “pothole surge,” Pence said INDOT crews will run alternating 12-hour shifts on weekdays and weekends to repair as many potholes as quickly as possible. Crews will be working 24-hour shifts in many areas around the state depending on available lighting equipment.
“The effort does not begin today, it continues today. This week we re-double our efforts to improve our thoroughfares and repair the potholes that are the aftermath of this brutal winter season,” he said.
“We have already deployed additional resources, supplemental crews, and INDOT personnel are already working additional hours and shifts to address this.”
Pence said in the Gary subdistrict alone no complete crews have had a day off since Christmas.
Pence said this fiscal year the state already has spent $2.9 million repairing potholes, extended 81,000 employee man hours and used up to this point 6,900 tons of material.
“Just in the last 30 days in the Gary subdistrict we have used 300 tons of cold mix to repair potholes,” Pence said.
Pence said INDOT is also working with asphalt plants across the region and the state of Indiana to encourage them to “fire up” the plants that typically don’t begin until later to make hot mix — the more permanent fix for potholes.
Pence said Northwest Indiana has gotten a significant amount of extra attention because it’s in a part of the state that has endured some of the worst weather this winter.
“We deal up here with about 1,200 lane miles that this subdistrict has to handle,” he said. “We have 51 plows that are on the road at all times that just operate in this subdistrict. But we also moved about two dozen trucks into this area from the Fort Wayne and Seymour districts (recognizing that Northwestern Indiana has to deal with lake effect snow)."
Pence said the blitz is being done “without additional funding at this time.”
Browning addressed concerns that Illinois is taking better care of its roads. He said a weather map showed that “they weren’t getting the same dump of snow” as Northwest Indiana.
“We’re doing at least as well as Illinois,” he said.
Matt Deitchley, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, said crews were called just after 5 p.m. Thursday to the Cline Avenue Bridge near the Borman Expressway interchange after reports surfaced of problems there.
Deitchley said expander joints on the bridge "opened up much wider than typical."
"Due to the extreme temperatures, snowfall, and heavy traffic we've seen during this historically challenging winter, the expander joints needed to be filled temporarily," Deitchley said. "Crews got it cleaned up quickly, but there were significant traffic backups at the time."
Deitchley said repairs were complete in both directions in about 90 minutes
Indiana residents can report potholes on Twitter at @INDOTpotholes, online at www.potholes.indot.in.gov, or by calling 1-866-849-1368.