Roads crews ready for Old Man Winter - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Roads crews ready for Old Man Winter

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Friday's rainy weather will soon turn into ice and snow.  But those won't be the only obstacles facing Michiana road crews.  They're also facing a lack of funding.

Officials at the Indiana Department of Transportation say they have made some operating changes to cut back on costs.  But they say those changes won't affect their service.

Old Man Winter is banging on Michiana's door.  But Richard Johnson says he's more than ready to weather any storm.

"A snowthrower.  10 horse power.  We live in the woods.  It has to pick up snow and the occasional acorn, sticks, twigs.  That's what we do," said Richard Johnson who's ready for the winter.

Elkhart Operations Manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation says they're ready too.  But they've made some changes because of high gas prices and a lack of funding from the motor vehicle tax.

"We're cutting back in the shops.  Cutting down on our lighting.  On everything else to conserve so we've got enough to put the money back in our roads," said INDOT Operations Manager James Krezel.

Krezel says the department hasn't laid anyone off, but they cut back on snow routes.  But he assures they'll still cover the same ground even with fewer trucks on the road.  And the price of salt is up 30 percent from last year.  So now IN-DOT will have to stretch their supply.

"We are using salt and liquid.  We are looking at a few more liquids.  We have calcium liquid and we also have brine," said Krezel.

Krezel says IN-DOT is preparing for the future.  After a truck is on the road for 15 to 17 years they replace it with a new one with LED lights, better fuel efficiency, and stainless steel to cut back on maintenance costs in the future.

"Our trucks have been running on bio-fuel in a lot of our trucks.  The calibration on the trucks has to be done every year, but this year we're fine tuning," said Krezel.

Krezel says despite the changes, he's certain they'll still be able to cover the roads.  But Richard Johnson says he's got a back-up plan.

"I have a truck and a four wheel drive," said Johnson.

FOX 28 spoke with county highway departments and city street departments throughout Michiana.   They all say they're ready for a long winter despite budget cuts or the salt shortage.

Online Reporter: Nadia Crow

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