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"Forecasts from the National Weather Service indicate the opportunity for accumulating snow of more than 6 inches in northern Indiana while motorists in southern Indiana will see a combination of rain, ice and snow."

INDOT preps for fierce winter storm

Statement as issued Friday by the Indiana Department of Transportation:

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) officials are monitoring a large winter storm making its way to Indiana. Forecasts from the National Weather Service indicate the opportunity for accumulating snow of more than 6 inches in northern Indiana while motorists in southern Indiana will see a combination of rain, ice and snow.

INDOT preparations

In anticipation of the storm, state highway crews pre-treated bridges, interchanges and roadways with salt brine to minimize icy precipitation from bonding to the road once the storm begins. INDOT continued to receive shipments of road salt from its suppliers during the recent break in winter storms and has adequate stock for the upcoming winter storm.

INDOT’s top winter priority is to plow and treat its more than 30,000 lane miles of interstates, U.S. highways and state routes. Winter operations staff will continue to monitor evolving forecasts and its statewide network of road and bridge sensors to deploy the needed personnel, equipment and materials ahead of the storm.

Record winter

National Weather Service offices in Chicago, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis have recorded the highest snowfall totals in more than three decades. INDOT estimates its yellow plow trucks have logged more than 7.4 million miles during this record winter through Feb. 15 or the equivalent of 300 trips around the earth. In the same time period, state highway crews have deployed 387,000 tons of granular salt and more than 4 million gallons of salt brine.

INDOT estimates it has used nearly $50 million in operational resources through Feb. 15. By comparison, the average cost of INDOT’s winter operations including labor, fuel and salt has been $33.8 million over the past five years.

Conditions worst during storm

Each INDOT plow route takes 2 to 3 hours to complete with salt assisting in melting between passes. With the predicted arctic temperatures, salt and other melting agents will have to work harder to melt ice and snow from the roadway. As a result, motorists should expect road conditions to be worst during the storm and any blowing or drifting that follows.

Drivers are strongly encouraged to not put themselves or first responders in harm’s way during these times by avoiding optional travel and heeding county travel advisories posted at www.in.gov/dhs/traveladvisory.

Motorists who must venture out play an important role in keeping the highways open and safe for other travelers by reducing their speeds according to conditions. Accelerate gradually, drive slowly, brake early and allow greater distance between the cars in front of you. Allow room for INDOT’s yellow plow trucks so they may safely clear their routes without delay.

Stay updated

The Indiana State Police and other law enforcement agencies encourage the public to keep emergency phone lines open and to access updated road conditions and closures at http://indot.carsprogram.org/ or by dialing toll-free 800-261-ROAD (7623) or 5-1-1 on your mobile phone. Road conditions reported as difficult (violet) are covered in snow and ice, fair (blue) have isolated snow and ice or wheel tracks, and good (gray) are generally clear.

INDOT’s Northeast Indiana district will also be posting regular social media updates during the storm at www.Facebook.com/INDOTNortheast and www.Twitter.com/INDOTNortheast.

Send items for The Scoop to jgnews@jg.net.

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