Nearly everyone is trying to find a way to work around high gas prices, and the LaPorte district of INDOT is doing exactly that; by switching their operations crews to 4-day work weeks.
It's becoming more and more common for state entities and private companies to switch to 4-day work weeks and 10 hour days, to offer their employees some relief from high prices at the pump.
But of course, it has to make sense for the business too; and in INDOT’s case, there appears to be a lot to gain.
For the guys out on the road in the LaPorte district, it means longer days, but fewer.
“We got to get used to it, getting up and hour earlier, getting home a another hour later,” said long-time employee Don Miller.
The new schedule started Monday, and so far, so good.
“This is only our second day so were not sure how its going to work out. But I already changed one of my appointments, I would have had to take some time off, but now I can do it on a Friday,” Miller said.
INDOT says the switch could cut some of their costs by 10%.
“Its just unreal the amount of money we spend in fuel just to get out to the job sites, it will be a real benefit to us,” said Steve Giese, Operations Manager at the INDOT Plymouth Sub district.
“Some of our job sites are a half hour, an hour away. Just the commute charge alone is costing us in fuel, let alone in time. Then you figure by the time we show up to the job site we got to set up traffic control, then it takes time to do the job, tear the traffic control down, then the commute charge back in. Really it’s going to be a cost savings in not only fuel, but the amount of time we spend on job sites is going to be added too, so well have a win-win situation,” Giese said.
And because it's much easier to plan when to trim the weeds than when the roads will need to be plowed, they'll switch back to 5 day weeks for the winter, likely around November.
“A little more predictable, I mean we can deal with the storms in the summer time, the flooding, we'll work a little overtime that way. But in the winter it would just be too hard,” Giese said.
For the workers, it's nice to have some help making ends meet.
“I drive 36 miles a day round trip so yea you can see how it would save me,” said employee Jerry Tolson. “you know a lot of things work out on paper till you try them, but you got to try them to see if its going to work,” Tolson.
INDOT hopes it will help them do the same.
“I think we're going to get a real shock as to how much of a savings it is just by shutting down for one day,” Giese said.
The Plymouth post will rotate with the Mishawaka post. One will be off Monday, and the other on Friday; and they'll cover each other's territory on those days.
INDOT doesn’t think this change be noticeable to people out on the road.
Administrative and construction workers will stay on 5-day weeks, so there will still be someone at each post.
INDOT says it was important that public safety didn't suffer because of the change.