Porter County Highway Department plows through obstacles to serve citizens in winter weather

Porter County Highway Department plows through obstacles to serve citizens in winter weather

It’s a Sunday night and light snow covers the Region. It’s forecasted to snow well into the morning and continue through the remainder of the day. Most people have hunkered down for the night drinking hot chocolate under warm blankets. Most are ready for a cozy night.

The day is just beginning, however, for the Porter County Highway Department. When snow threatens the safety of its citizens, the department is ready for battle against the weather. 

The crew plows and salts over 815 miles of road, and is responsible for plowing over 200 subdivisions. When heavy snow is forecasted, Superintendent Jim Polarek must plan to stagger plow crews in order to keep plows on the road at all times.

“If it's an extended snow event, sometimes we will stagger crews to where we'll have half of the drivers come in at four and the other half come in at seven. That way we can have more trucks on the road till later in the evening,” Polarek said.

It can seem daunting to plow so many roads in such a short amount of time, but the combination of training and organization makes the process a smooth operation.

Every driver must have a CDL license and go through training taught by the Highway Department. Drivers must also go through an annual safety course through Purdue University’s Local Technical Assistance Program. By the time training is complete, the drivers are fully capable of handling even the toughest of conditions.

Drivers are assigned to a geographical area to plow, which includes any subdivisions that are located within that area. Some drivers may not cover much mileage, but they may plow a handful of subdivisions that are all located near each other. Other drivers may be in an area with little to no subdivisions, but will cover a much larger area.

Polarek and the team know that their services are helping residents across Porter County in some of the harshest conditions. It’s often a thankless job, but the knowledge that there are people who truly appreciate the service makes it worth it.

“I know that there's more people out there that have a positive view of the highway department. I just try to think about the people that we're helping. When you finish the project in a snowstorm, knowing that you have accomplished it is a great feeling,” Polarek said.

To learn more about the Porter County Highway Department’s plowing and salting process, visit https://www.porterco.org/1381/Snow-Plowing-Salting

To learn more about the Porter County Government, visit https://www.porterco.org/.