The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) estimates its yellow plow trucks have logged nearly 4.3 million miles and deployed 265,000 tons of granular salt during this record winter through Jan. 18. In addition, INDOT had deployed nearly 2.5 million gallons of salt brine on Hoosier highways.
National Weather Service offices in Indianapolis and Chicago respectively have recorded the second- and third-highest snowfall totals for a winter season on record through Jan. 21. Over the past five years, the average cost of INDOT’s winter operations including overtime, fuel and salt has been $33.8 million. With this winter a little more than half over, INDOT estimates it has invested more than $31 million in winter operations as of Jan. 18.
INDOT’s maintenance budget is funded primarily through vehicle registration fees and an 18-cent tax charged for every gallon of gas. Indiana fuel taxes have not increased in more than a decade.
INDOT staff monitors weather forecasts and deploys up to 2,100 drivers, mechanics, clerks and managers before predicted winter weather to work alternating 12-hour shifts, 7 days per week, if needed. Each INDOT plow route takes 2 to 3 hours to complete with salt assisting in melting between passes.
Drivers play a role, as well, in keeping the highways open and safe for other travelers by avoiding optional travel during winter storms and reducing speeds according to conditions. Drivers are urged to make room for INDOT’s yellow plow trucks so they are not delayed in clearing the road ahead.