Nasty winter testing snow removal budgets - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Nasty winter testing snow removal budgets


Mother Nature is forcing Michiana street departments to break the bank!  It's been a snowy season and that means crews have been working around the clock to keep the streets safe for drivers.

"We've been putting in a lot of overtime. We're trying to make sure people can get from point A to point B," says Elkhart plow driver, Rudell Wright.  "It's been very hard on all the drivers," he says.

A crew of 34 people in the Elkhart Street Department has been working 12 hour shifts, every time there's a storm, and that's happened a lot this winter.

Snow isn't the only problem. "Add in the winds, and the temperatures and nothing melting, it's been fun. Eventful, I guess," says Elkhart Street Commissioner Marty Morgan.

So just how much more eventful has this winter been over recent years?

Mayor Dick Moore says the city has already spent $185 thousand on salt, $12 thousand on sand and about $50 thousand on overtime.

"We've probably used twice as much as we have in the past. So hopefully, it won't snow that much longer and we can balance it out and be about the same," says Morgan.

It's probably safe to assume everyone is hoping for that, including Wright, who has been fighting the elements in his plow truck.

"Yeah, it's been a challenge, but we just go out there and try to give 100% and do the best we can," says Wright.

If winter doesn't let up any time soon, the street department is ready, even if that means shifting around funds, as drivers log more hours.

The City of Mishawaka says crews have been working around the clock since Friday. The last big storm in early January cost about $42 thousand and the street department expects the same this time around.

INDOT says plow trucks have logged nearly 4.3 million miles this winter. An average winter costs the department about $33.8 million. INDOT has already invested $31 million so far this winter.

Plow drivers ask drivers slow down and give them plenty of space to work. Elkhart's Street Department asks anyone using a snowblower, not to blow snow into the street, because they're just going to push it right back onto their driveways and sidewalks.


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