Streets being cleared before next snowFebruary 17, 2021
By CANDY NEAL
A combination of work and sun has made many roads in the county passable.
But the county is due for more snowfall late Wednesday.
“It’s getting better. The sun is sure helping,” Dubois County Highway Supervisor Steve Berg said. “Maneuvering around is certainly possible. A lot of the roads that you’re gonna see out there are still going to be white and snow covered. But they appear to have decent traction on them.”
Dubois County received between 4 and 8 inches of snow between Monday evening and Tuesday morning, depending on the location within the county. According to the National Weather Service, Jasper received about 4 inches in the heart of the city as of Tuesday morning, while rural Jasper heading east saw 8 inches. Huntingburg saw 6.4 inches, while Ferdinand and St. Anthony each received 4 inches. The National Weather Service also recorded 7 inches of fallen snow in Celestine.
“We worked until around 9 or 10 o’clock last night and got pretty much everything opened up,” Berg said. “We had a little bit, you know, come on top of this yet. But it wasn’t too bad.”
On Tuesday, crews were “plowing everything back and getting the secondary and gravel roads opened up,” Berg said, “and getting ready for the next one.”
They were being careful about putting down more gravel on roads. “We’re pretty thin on on material, and both quarries are closed. We couldn’t even get the gravel if we needed it,” Berg said. “So unless we’ve got something that’s really slick or treacherous, we’re not until after that one gets through. Because I think that’s the last weather system for a little bit.”
Huntingburg crews have been working long hours since Sunday morning, clearing roads and applying salt and brine to them.
“We’ve been working from about 11 a.m. Sunday to 7 p.m. [Monday] night,” Huntingburg Street Superintendent Jason Stamm said. “Some of the guys went home and took naps for a couple of hours, and then came back. I don’t have enough people to be able to run shifts. ”
Because there are eight workers including Stamm, they work together to cover city streets. “When you’ve got 43 lane miles of roads in town and only three trucks that spread salt,” Stamm said, “you can’t get too far behind or you don’t get it all put down like you need to.”
Crews were back at 3 a.m. Tuesday to clear streets as much as possible before commuter traffic was on the roads. And they are taking advantage of the sunshine to clear slush off the streets.
“We want to get as much of that slushy stuff off the roads before tonight, when it will turn around a refreeze,” Stamm said.
Jasper crews were also out in the wee hours of the morning working on the streets, while the temperature was in the single digits.
“We were starting to have trouble with our equipment, our spreaders,” Jasper Street Superintendent Jeff Theising said. “Everything was clumping up, so we were having some difficulty. But we were getting ready for a shift change anyhow, so it gave us a time to kind of go through our tracks a little bit, before we went back out.”
And the treated salt crews tried to put down on the roads didn’t help much. “It was not working at single-digit temperatures,” Theising said. “So the roads weren’t too good this morning.”
Work crews were out 38 of the last 48 hours. A crew ran 10 hours, with the next going 10 hours, and the next 9 hours, and the next 9 hours. They moved snow off the roads as it was falling, and when it stopped, worked to widen the street space where cars could drive.
“We’re still out there pushing it off [the streets] this [Tuesday] afternoon, so that it doesn’t refreeze tonight,” Theising said.
Because of the long hours workers have been spending on the streets, Jasper canceled its trash, cardboard and magazine collections for Tuesday. “We hope to start back up again tomorrow,” Theising said.
Along with Tuesday’s sunshine, the fact that the street pavement temperature is warmer than the atmosphere temperature also helps. While the temperature in the air was 15 degrees Tuesday afternoon, the Indiana Department of Transportation recorded the road surface temperature as 35.5 degrees.
“That’s why it’s melting off,” Theising said. “The rays from the sun will heat that asphalt up.”
The next bout of snow is predicted to arrive tonight. The National Weather Service is forecasting another 3 inches of snow tonight, and another half an inch Thursday morning.
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