Evansville and Vanderburgh County crews are out on their snow routes as yet another winter storm slams the Tri-State. With what has been a wicked winter so far it has had an impact on the city and county's salt supply.
Officials say the preparation for this most recent storm started earlier this week and ramped up early Tuesday morning. The city and county dispatched some trucks to pre-treat the roads while also getting their snow plows filled up with salt and sand so they could be ready at a moment's notice.
In yet another battle against Old Man Winter, Patrick Seib is like General Patton and the fleet of snow plows are his tanks. He's been leading Vanderburgh County's army as the Highway Superintendent since August.
"I told people I was looking forward to the first snow event and people thought I might be crazy," Seib said. "I wanted to get up in the trucks and see how we did everything."
He's been baptized by snow. By now, Seib said, he's used to it. Preparation for each and every event this winter has been paramount. The message applies to both the city and county.
"To [the crew] it's part of the job. It does get old though because it seems like it never snows during the day," said Dennis Hudnall, the Superintendent of Evansville's Street Maintenence Department. :"You're in here all night trying to get the roads prepared for the morning commute."
"The only thing we're doing different to our mix now is we're adding our pre-treated sand into it," Seib said. "That way, we can try to stretch out our salt supply as much as we can."
That's the crux that both superintendents have to contend with. The wicked winter has plowed through their salt supply. But luckily, Hudnall has an ally.
A newly installed piece of equipment allows city crews to create in-house their solution to be used to pre-treat the roads. The cocktail of beet juice, calcium chloride and salt brine can be adjusted to the temperature to reach the greatest level of effectiveness.
"What we try to do is be cost conscious," Hudnall said. "When we do this, we don't want to waste it because the resources get pretty thin as the year goes on. Hopefully our resources will hold out until the end of the year."
"It's done a number on us," Seib said. "Right now, we're sitting on about a thousand tons of salt inventory. I'd like to have more than that knowing we have a ways to go."