Marion County Road and Bridge Department is making the transition from summer to winter work.
The department wrapped up summer road projects about two weeks ago and released five seasonal workers, Road and Bridge Superintendent Jim Herzet said.
Repeated freezing and thawing makes major construction and repair projects problematic, and patching material works best when road temperatures are above 50 degrees, Herzet said.
Road grading and culvert projects continue, though. Additionally, workers cut trees and brush from county rights of way.
But the most obvious of the department’s winter duties is snow removal. The department has 14 motor-graders, seven plow trucks, and one sand spreader. The plow trucks mostly work on blacktop roads, and motor-graders clear gravel roads.
Wind speeds play a role in determining when snowplows go to work, Herzet said. If winds are calm, they can begin clearing roads as soon as snow begins falling.
But strong winds and drifting snow can delay road clearing.
“They can drift shut on you about as fast as they open up,” Herzet said.
Seeing snowplows at work while roads are still drifting can give drivers a false sense of security, he said.