As 2012 starts to wind down, the Indiana Department of Transportation’s LaPorte District is gearing up for what promises to be a busy winter season. Snow plow crews have gone through their winter refresher training and are ready to hit the streets with more than 170 plows when the first snow begins to fall.
It’s our goal to make sure drivers in Northwest Indiana have safe roads to travel throughout the year, but that job is especially important during the winter months. Our “snow warriors” work alternating 12-hour shifts around the clock during winter storms, plowing and salting the 5,000 lane miles of highways that comprise the LaPorte District.
Our primary mission in the winter is to make the interstates, U.S. highways and state highways as safe as possible. When you can't get out of your driveway on a snowy winter morning, remember there are dedicated INDOT workers already clearing the snow from the roadways.
Before a storm hits, you’ll likely see our trucks out applying brine to the roadways. This salt mixture stays on the pavement and is a cost-effective way to help melt snow and ice the minute it starts falling.
When snow begins, plow drivers hit the roads to clear state highways safely and quickly. A typical snow route is about 35 miles long and takes two to three hours to plow, depending on the conditions.
Because every winter storm is unique, INDOT implements specific strategies for the conditions. INDOT uses the best weather forecasts and technology to ensure our crews are applying the right amount of salt to our roads in the right place at the right time. For example, salt might not be used during a snowstorm with high winds because the melted snow would act as a magnet for snow blowing across the roadway.
The biggest impact to safe winter travel begins and ends with driver behavior. You’re urged to use caution as snow is cleared from roadways. Once again this winter, drivers can track road conditions. The website www.trafficwise.in.gov is updated during snow events.
INDOT takes seriously its mission to provide a superior transportation system that enhances safety, mobility and economic growth. In addition to our winter maintenance operations, INDOT has invested more than $249 million in transportation projects in the 13 Northwest Indiana counties so far in 2012.
That investment has an impact on employment by creating immediate construction jobs and providing an infrastructure network that stimulates economic growth, which ultimately leads to long-term jobs.
In the coming months, we’ll be talking more about the economic impact the proposed Illiana Expressway corridor could have on our region. That investment of more than $1 billion is projected to lead to 25,000 direct and indirect long-term jobs and 9,000 immediate construction jobs. By reducing congestion on existing roads and interstates, the corridor will also improve air quality and safety.
By working together, we can capitalize on Indiana’s strategic location at the Crossroads of America by building a superior road infrastructure. That, in turn, will spur economic development and bring jobs for the future.