Street and highway departments welcome unusually warm weather

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INDIANAPOLIS (December 8, 2015) - Road and highway departments around central Indiana are making use of this mild December weather to get some bonus work time in on various projects.

For the Indianapolis Department of Public Works, this week’s forecast in the 50s and 60s means crews can spend their days on street repair instead of treating for snow and ice.

“This is an opportunity for us to really take advantage of those places that we can really focus on,” said DPW Spokesperson Jennifer Hashem.  “Whether it’s alleys, patching potholes, parks maintenance, all different sorts of things that we normally do throughout the months that we’re not focused on snow.”

The Indiana Department of Transportation is also using the mild weather to make progress on several projects north and south of Indianapolis.  INDOT crews are able to lay down hot mix pavement on I-65 in Johnson County this week.  Paving is also happening on U.S. 31 in Hamilton County.  INDOT spokesman Harry Maginity said hot mix pavement can’t be put down when the temperature dips below 40 degrees.  The warm temperatures also make it possible for crews to put down permanent lane markings on those projects.  Those permanent lane markings can only be applied when the temperature is above 50 degrees, Maginity said.

Early-to-mid December isn’t usually a time for huge snowfall in central Indiana.  But there have been some rough starts to winter in recent years.  In 2013, Indianapolis received 7.8 inches of snow in the first two weeks of December.  In 2010, 8.8 inches of snow fell in that same time period.

Weather watchers say a stronger than normal El Nino is partly to thank for the mild weather we’re seeing in central Indiana right now.  But it’s unclear if the warm, dry pattern will carry through the months of January and February.

For now, ever day and night above freezing is another day and night that DPW, INDOT and county highway departments don’t have to dip into their salt supply for the season.

“We have over 17,000 tons of salt at this time,” Hashem said.  “And all of our barns are fully stacked.  So as far as salt, we’re very much prepared for that.”

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