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COVID-19 complicates planning for snow clearing agencies heading into winter

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ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) - A small amount of snow loomed as a possibility early Tuesday morning, putting road clearing crews on notice that the winter season is just around the corner.

We know we will see periods of nasty weather that complicate driving conditions at some points over the next three or four months.

COVID-19 is one more potential headache managers of road clearing agencies must deal with this winter season.

The Indiana Department of Transporation's Northeast District, headquartered in Fort Wayne, has been doing contingency planning for coronavirus issues for months.

If drivers get sick or are in quarantine and can't work, INDOT has pools of people it can dip into to get enough snow plows out on the roadways.

"For example, our construction teams or permitting teams that are cross-trained in winter operations, so they could jump in and help pick up shifts and take over for employees who may be out sick at any given time," said Scott Manning, INDOT's strategic communications director.

Allen County's Highway Department is also working on Plan B and Plan C scenarios, in case front-line workers are knocked out for some time because of virus concerns.

"Every day, we wait and see how things are playing out, just having a backup plan and if guys end up taking off work, and what not, we've got guys that can fill in those spots, so we can keep guys out on the roadway," said Rob Davis, the county highway department's north barn supervisor.

INDOT says it also is prepared to shift snow plow drivers from one district to another, if a bad snow or ice storm hits an area where the ranks of regular drivers have been thinned out by COVID-19 infections.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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