DIVISION OF PUBLIC WORKS – GENERAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT WINTER PLAN
During the winter season, our mandate is to keep City of Gary streets safe and passable as soon & as safely as possible.
The City of Gary has in its jurisdiction approximately:
- Fifty-two (52) square land miles
- Four hundred thirty-four (434) road miles
- Two hundred (200) alley miles
The Division of Public Works, led by the General Services Department, prepares year round to handle winter weather that affects the entire City. City vehicles/crews run 24/7 if needed to meet the needs of the Community. During the winter months we monitor weather conditions closely and before the onset of snow and ice, our team is prepared to minimize the impact of inclement winter weather.
The General Services Department coordinates the long-range plan for snow removal. The rate and accumulation of snowfall, moisture content, presence of sleet and freezing rain, temperature change during and after the storm, time of day or night, storm duration, and intervals between storms—all interact to make each weather event unique. Accordingly, the General Services Superintendent and Foreman have the responsibility and authority to develop and implement plans specific to real-time conditions. They know the availability of staff on a 24/7 basis during the winter season. They know the readiness of snow and ice removal vehicles & equipment, and consult with the Vehicle Maintenance Department on repairs and purchases. They advise Public Works on staffing needs and salt supply.
Interactive Snow Routes Map
Snow Plow Priority
- When there is one inch or more of snow accumulation, to effectively service the largest number of people, the City of Gary will categorize roadways into three priorities and plow/salt accordingly:
- PRIMARY ROUTES - Plow trucks are dispatched on main thoroughfares when 1 inch or more of snow accumulation is received. Drivers will plow snow out to a minimum of two feet beyond pavement edge, where possible, so snow will melt away from the road and not back onto it causing ice conditions. Primary streets are considered main arterial and higher traffic volume collector roadways. Hills, bridges, roads adjacent to schools and leading to hospitals are included in this category. These routes are plowed within 24 hours after snowfall ends.
- SECONDARY ROUTES – Roads highly traveled, but not as much as Primary Routes. These roads feed into Primary Snow Routes. City crews plow one path (in/out) through these roadways allow residents mobility as early as practical in a storm. Crews will return later to finish pushing snow back “close to the curb” to clear storm inlets. This prevents deep ice rutting and keeps the streets passable. All Secondary Snow Routes are typically plowed within 48 hours after snowfall ends.
- TERTIARY ROUTES – Alley conditions are evaluated during heavier snow accumulations to determine if assistance is needed to maintain mobility. The Gary Sanitary District & Demolition Department assists in clearing heavy accumulations of snow in the alleys when necessary. These are typically plowed within 72 hours after snowfall ends.
Crews start with primary routes and proceed through all of the secondary routes. When these streets are plowed one time, the crews return, by priority,, to the streets that need to be “re-plowed”. Removal efforts will continue until safety hazards caused by snow and ice have been eliminated.
The amount of snow and/or ice and the duration of the storm affects the time it takes to complete the work on each street. Therefore, a specific completion time cannot be given.
What You Should Know
• Knowledge: Before leaving home, find out about the driving conditions. Safe drivers know the weather, and their limits. If the weather is bad remember, Ice and Snow, Take it Slow, or just don’t go.
• Clear: Remove any snow on your vehicle’s windows, lights, brake lights and signals. Make sure you can see and be seen.
• Inspect: Check your vehicle’s tires, wiper blades, fluids, lights, belts and hoses. A breakdown is bad on a good day and dangerous on a bad-weather day.
• Time: Leave plenty of time to reach your destination safely. It’s not worth putting yourself and others in a dangerous situation just to be on time.
• Kit: Keep a basic winter survival kit in your vehicle, including a flashlight, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, and a first-aid kit. Load your car with winter travel gear, including tire chains, ice scraper/snowbrush, jumper cables, and road flares.
Caution: Slippery When Wet!
When driving in winter weather, watch out! Mother Nature has some tricks up her sleeve in the winter. Here are some to be on the lookout for:
• First Snow or Ice: Drivers often aren’t prepared for winter driving and forget to take it slow. Remember to drive well below the posted speed limit and leave plenty of room between cars.
• Black Ice: Roads that seem dry may actually be slippery – and dangerous. Take it slow when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady areas – all are hot spots for black ice. Remember, Ice and Snow, Take it Slow.
• Limited Visibility: Stay attentive and reduce speed. Know what’s going on around you.
• Four-Wheel Drive: On snow and ice, go slowly, no matter what type of vehicle you drive. Even if you have an SUV with four-wheel drive you may not be able to stop any faster, or maintain control any better, once you lose traction. Four-wheel drive may get you going faster, but it won’t help you stop sooner.
Staying Safe Around Snowplows
Here’s what you need to know about driving around snowplows:
• Distance: Give snowplows room to work. The plows are wide and can cross the centerline or shoulder. Don’t tailgate and try not to pass. If you must pass, take extreme caution and beware of the snow cloud.
• Speed: Snowplows travel below the posted speed limit. Be patient. Allow plenty of time to slow down. Remember, Ice and Snow, Take it Slow.
• Vision: A snowplow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they don’t always see you. Keep your distance and watch for sudden stops or turns.
Proceed with Caution!
• Speed: The faster you’re going, the longer it will take to stop. When accelerating on snow or ice, take it slow to avoid slipping or sliding. Ice and Snow, Take it Slow.
• Distance: Give yourself space. It takes extra time and extra distance to bring your car to a stop on slick and snowy roads. Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
• Brake: Brake early, brake slowly, brake correctly and never slam on the brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal. Either way, give yourself plenty of room to stop.
• Control: When driving on ice and snow, do not use cruise control and avoid abrupt steering maneuvers. When merging into traffic, take it slow. Sudden movements can cause your vehicle to slide.
• Vision: Be aware of what’s going on well ahead of you. Actions by other vehicles will alert you to problems more quickly, and give you that split-second of extra time to react safely.