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The Rust Belt

The cab of one of the Street Department salt trucks is rusted so that the post can be moved. Closing the driver’s door is sometimes difficult.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

Salt helps clear winter roadways but is, itself, an enemy of the vehicles that spread it.

Connersville Street Superintendent Darryll Morehead told City Council Monday he has two trucks that are so rusted, the doors will not close properly.

“They are still running and we can still keep the doors closed but if they would happen to shift again and I can’t keep the driver’s side door closed, they’re on the sidelines,” he said. “We’ll do what we can with what we’ve got.”

After storms, the trucks are thoroughly washed but it’s impossible to clean off all the salt, which then corrodes the metal.

If there are fewer trucks on the road, major thoroughfares will be cleaned first but neighborhoods will not be cleaned as quickly, he said. The hospital, schools and emergency responders stations will be cleaned. 

The department has five dump trucks for snow removal and three pickup trucks with plows.

The two worst trucks are 1998 Fords.

The trucks operate but the door wobbles on its hinges and the rear post of the cab on the driver’s side is rusted so it can be moved. The cab has shifted so the hood doesn’t match properly.

The department also has a 1991 Ford that still runs and the cab is good. The remaining trucks are a 2002 International and a 2006 Sterling.

One option is to find truck cabs and replace the cabs but Morehead said he hasn’t found any available cabs.

“It sounds easy to change a cab but, there’s a lot of work involved, maybe weeks or longer,” he said. “I’ll get with body shops around and see if anyone wants to play with it.”

Another option is to find a used truck. The Fayette County Highway Department has purchased used tandem trucks from the city of Noblesville and is awaiting delivery of those. Noblesville had a good used single-axle truck for sale at a reasonable price but it has been sold, Morehead said.

When the county receives its new trucks, the city may be able to borrow an old one if necessary but they are tandem trucks which are not suited for city streets, he said. Connersville Utilities has offered trucks but those trucks do not have plow attachments and aren’t fitted for salt boxes.

Whether buying cabs or used trucks, if coming from locations with snow and ice, they could have issues in the making, he said.

“It’s no one’s fault and I give my mechanics all the credit in the world,” Morehead said. “The only reason I brought it up is the safety of my people.”