Changes in the weather always manage to keep Joe Ewing and the Kokomo Street Department on their toes this time of year.
Coming off one of the worst winter storms Kokomo has seen in a couple of decades, Ewing’s crews shifted their focus from plowing city streets around the clock to dealing with the aftermath of a thaw that melted a good portion of the snow: potholes.
Ewing said potholes began to pop up on Saturday after the combination of snow and ice packed into cracks in the roads, expanding those cracks and leaving a number of sizable holes in city streets that are difficult to avoid.
“When the cold weather hit and then it got warm, [potholes] started appearing with the moisture created by the warm weather,” said Ewing, adding that crews were able to fill between 25 and 40 potholes in a single day earlier this week.
Ewing said the worst damage occurs on Kokomo’s busiest streets where cars travel at higher speeds, including Washington Street, Markland Avenue, Lafountain Street, Jefferson Street and Dixon Road.
The recent influx of inclement weather has forced city and county workers to put in extra hours over the past couple of weeks, beginning with the snow storm that hit Central Indiana on Jan. 5.
The city paid $51,000 in overtime wages during the three-day storm that had workers picking up an average of 30 to 40 hours of overtime each. That total reflects the pay of the city’s street, sewer and traffic departments. On top of that, an additional $22,000 was spent on salt for roads.
Howard County’s Highway Department spent $24,000 on overtime, with 24 vehicles on the roads for the duration of the storm.
“We had to keep all of our guys running, because we didn’t have enough people to go out there in shifts,” Howard County Highway Superintendent Ted Cain said. “We had to pick our times when it was best to be out there and plow and get our guys rest when it wasn’t snowing.”