Garbage trucks double as snow plows as Indy gears up for winter storm

Snow force prepares 118 plows to battle snow

INDIANAPOLIS - Workers spent Monday preparing snow plows at city Snow Force garages and Indiana Department of Transportation barns, where workers were then sent home to rest up before snow begins to fall.

Several garbage trucks were emptied out and hooked up with snow plows at Indianapolis Department of Public Works facilities, bringing the total to 118 plows ready to move out on Christmas night.

“It kind of helps that they don’t have trash pickup tomorrow so they got fitted today for the snow plows and loaded up with salt, and make sure all the weights work for snow removal,” Lesley Malone of Indianapolis DPW Snow Force told RTV6. “They’re ready.”

The city sent out an alert over Twitter, saying 90 workers were being called in to bolster the staff that’s already being scheduled for duty.

“It is all hands on deck.  We’re going to have a total of 118 units out plowing snow and dropping salt,” said Malone.

At one city garage on Martin Luther King, Jr. street northwest of downtown, dump trucks were lined up and parked at the ready.  At the West Street Garage southwest of downtown, dozens of trucks were backed in and ready to pull out after being hooked up and filled with salt.

An Indiana Department of Transportation official told RTV6, “We’re watching the forecast.”  State snow plow workers have not yet been activated for duty, but managers were preparing to begin calling in snow plow drivers around 8 o’clock on Christmas night, depending on changes to the forecast or development of the storm.

Inside Indianapolis proper, city crews focus on major thoroughfares first. DPW posted a map that shows which routes are considered their top priorities, followed by secondary routes. The map also shows which neighborhoods are plowed by homeowners associations or private contractors.

Malone said scouts will be first to hit the road as snow begins to fall, keeping an eye on bridges and overpasses to watch for the formation of ice.

She said, "We really stick to a solid plan as far as prep goes, so just depending on the forecast as far as numbers (of workers).  But as far as salt preparation, preparing the trucks, we’re ready for anything."

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