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Oct 28

Winter Weather Road Conditions Communications Process

Posted on October 28, 2021 at 10:56 AM by Curt Ellis

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners has established a proactive communications process during winter weather events when road conditions deteriorate because of snow and/or icing. This process has been developed and refined over the past few years to assure that consistent and correct information is disseminated on a timely basis, both internally to necessary department stakeholders as well as externally to school district leadership and the public. You can download and/or print the detailed communications plan HERE.

Roads That Are Included In The Road Conditions Reports:

These road condition reports only apply to the roads maintained by the Porter County Highway Department. Porter County Highway Department is responsible for streets and roads in UNINCORPORATED Porter County. Unincorporated means outside the municipal boundaries of our cities and towns. State Roads and US Highways are also excluded as they are maintained by the Indiana Department of Transportation. You can find more information about who maintains which roads at WHO MAINTAINS WHICH ROADS

Road Conditions Updates Commmunications Process:

In order to prevent confusing or conflicting information being disseminated, ALL road condition updates are coordinated through a designated staff member in the Board of Commissioners’ office.

When the Highway Department deploys trucks, no matter the time of day or night, they will notify the Commissioners’ designee with a road conditions report along with the steps they are taking to address the conditions. For ongoing snow and/or ice events, the Highway Department will provide updates every two to three hours or as conditions require. Upon receiving the initial report or any updated information from the Highway Department, the Commissioners’ designee will provide the information to:

Travel Alert Communications Process:

When conditions warrant, the Emergency Management Agency Director will notify the Commissioners’ designee when any Travel Alerts are declared, modified or ended. The Director will update the Indiana Department of Homeland Security Travel website and the Commissioners’ designee will provide the information to:

What Are Travel Alerts?

When road conditions deteriorate during winter weather conditions, the leadership at the Highway Department, Sheriff's Department and Emergency Management Agency consult to determine if those conditions warrant the issuance of Travel Alerts to notify the public of potentially dangerous situations. These Travel Alert Classifications will be used to inform the public about the conditions of roads in UNINCORPORATED Porter County. These classifications were designed to mirror the Travel Alert Classifications on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security website.

TRAVEL ADVISORY: The lowest level of local travel alert, it means that routine travel or activities may be restricted in areas because of a hazardous situation, and individuals should use caution or avoid those areas. Under a Travel Advisory, you should exercise caution in driving, or avoid driving if possible.

TRAVEL WATCH: A Travel Watch means that conditions are threatening to the safety of the public. During a Travel Watch advisory, only essential travel, such as to and from work or in emergency situations, is recommended.

TRAVEL WARNING: A Travel Warning means that the Porter County Board of Commissioners has declared a State Of Emergency. It also means that travel on roads in unincorporated Porter County is restricted to emergency management workers only. Under a Travel Warning, individuals are directed to refrain from all travel and comply with necessary emergency measures. 

The Plowing & Salting Process

One Time Snow Events: During one-time snow events, the Highway Department will plow/salt main thoroughfares and emergency routes, followed by side roads and subdivisions. 

Continuing Snow Events: During snow events that continue over a few days, the Highway Department’s focus will be plowing/salting main thoroughfares and emergency routes, with single passes through subdivisions when possible. When the snow event subsides, the Highway Department will do a complete clean up of all roads and streets. 

Cul-De-Sacs: Cul-de-sacs will be cleared by smaller trucks that can more easily maneuver the area. These drivers do their best to place the snow in an unobtrusive area. 

Driveways: Please understand that our plows cannot keep snow out of residents' driveways. Snow from the roadway is pushed from the center to the edges, and it is the homeowner's responsibility to clear the snow from the end of their driveway, as well as in front of the mailbox. This snow should not be placed back in the street. County Code prohibits property owners to place snow from their property (driveways, sidewalks, etc.) in the street. 

Help The Highway Department Help You!

During snow events, you can help the Highway Department clear your roads faster with these tips: 

  • Do your grocery shopping and errands BEFORE the snow starts;
  • The less traffic there is on the roads, the quicker the snow plows can clear them. So, avoid driving if possible;
  • Keep your parked cars off the roads and streets. The less obstacles to the snow plow drivers, the quicker the roads can be cleared. Remember it is a violation of County Code to park your car on the streets if there is a snowfall of 2" or more until the streets have been plowed. Violators may be subject to having their cars ticketed and/or towed at the owners expense.
  • Give snow plows a wide berth on the road, for your safety and theirs;
  • When clearing your driveways, do not push snow into the roads. It is a violation of County Code. Violators may be subject to civil fines.

Above all, please be patient. The Highway Department is responsible for plowing and salting over 815 miles of roads. Because they have to make at least two passes down every road (one each way), that comes to 1630 driving miles...the equivalent of plowing one lane from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Key West, Florida.