Official: Keeping salt on streets has not been easy this winter

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Keeping salt on city streets during this record-breaking winter hasn’t been easy.

“Salt has been a challenge this winter in general,” said Indianapolis Department or Public Works Spokesperson Lesley Gordon.

Weeks of winter storms here and across the country have created unprecedented demand for salt. DPW has had to look far and wide to keep local salt barns full.

“We’ve been able to piece meal, but we’re definitely using it quickly and we’re definitely understanding it’s a challenge,” Gordon said.

The latest shipment came by train Sunday from Philadelphia. There was just one problem.

“It was frozen en route,” Gordon said.

More than 3,000 tons, she said, packed inside train cars had frozen solid during the trip here.

So with time ticking before Monday afternoon’s expected snow and ice, DPW turned to Indianapolis Power and Light for help.

IPL has thawing huts it uses to thaw coal but allowed DPW to use them to thaw all that salt.
The huts have electric heaters on the floor and on each side.

IPL spokesperson Brandi Davis-Handy said each hut can hold seven rail cars at a time. Each car had to sit in the shed for three to four hours while thawing.

Gordon said DPW workers do what they could to help things move along.

“They’re shaking … it loose as well as physically hitting it as well as shaking the actual railway cars,” Gordon said.

By afternoon, the salt had finally made its way to the salt barns and then to 90 trucks – all ready to do battle in a winter war that won’t seem to let up.

“We’re going to put everything that we have on the road,” she said.

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