Elkhart County Highway Department scrambling to fix broken truck - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Elkhart County Highway Department scrambling to fix broken trucks

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The Michiana deep freeze has taken its toll on Elkhart County by damaging nearly 20 salt trucks and snow plows.  Now, the County is in a bind to fix all the vehicles before the next snow storm hits. Deryl Lutrell is one of four mechanics working around the clock to fix Elkhart County's salt trucks. "Some of them are quick fixes," says Lutrell, "Others, it depends on what it is and whether we have the parts."

Manager Jeff Taylor says there are all kinds of problems that can occur.  The ice and snow gets packed up underneath the trucks, never allowing all of it to thaw out thoroughly. The Michiana deep freeze has Elkhart County's highway department scrambling to fix their massive salt trucks and snow plows so that when the next storm hits, they have the means to keep the streets clear. Right now, between 16 to 18 vehicles are in the shop.

"After a while, ice forms, breaks off," says Taylor. "A couple of the trucks took out the oil filters. Fortunately we caught it in time so we didn't lose the entire engine," he adds. But some of the trucks can't even get looked at by mechanics, yet, because the mechanics are waiting on parts, or waiting on the mechanics to get finished up because they could require a couple hours or several days worth of work.

Then there are parts that are completely filled with salt and rust. Lutrell says if you don't have the parts, you can't fix the trucks. Some of the complicated parts they're still waiting on are speed sensors, but Taylor says luckily there are some with quick-fixes like broken windshield wipers. "We have about 25 to 30 plow routes, and we have about 35 trucks," Taylor says, "So it gives us a few spares to back up the plow drivers when their truck breaks down."

Fortunately, the Highway Department learned from history. The last time this many trucks needed repairs was in 2000.  Taylor says with spare vehicles on the road, there's no need to panic. The highway department says they should have all vehicles up and running in about a week. Despite the freezing temperatures, the highway department only lost one truck from electrical damage.

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