DPW: No plans to call in contractors to treat residential streets this week

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — City officials do not plan on calling in private contractors to deal with snow this week.

Indianapolis Department of Public Works spokesperson, Ben Easley, says the department discussed the matter. They decided the conditions didn’t call for private plow and salt truck drivers.

“Our priority with DPW is taking care of those major thoroughfares, secondary streets, especially for emergency services and making sure that city services can continue,” Easley said.

The department based the decision on a longstanding city policy that says DPW will call in private contractors if Indianapolis receives six inches of snow in a single weather event. The National Weather Service says Indianapolis received 7.4 inches of snow from Sunday night to Tuesday morning. However, the snow didn’t fall all at once.

“With this event, we’ve had two different waves of snow over the past couple days,” Easley said. “They’re two different events. And the other thing to remember is pavement temperatures. So if the pavement is really warm, you may see the first couple inches that fall on the streets just melt immediately.”

Easley said DPW also considers the conditions in the weather forecast after a snowfall when making the decision.

“Because we’re seeing the sun come through,” Easley said. “We’re seeing an area of dry weather throughout the rest of the week, that we hope that will take care of some of those residential areas and they can look forward to clearer streets in the next couple days here.”

The last time Indianapolis called in private contractors for residential streets; about five years ago, it came at a cost of roughly $500,000.

Some neighborhoods hire their own private contractors to salt and plow their residential streets.

In the Irvington area, snow packed down and frozen into a solid layer of ice on the road. Jan Deferbrache, owner of The Magic Candle at the corner of Audubon and Bonner, said the icy streets were hurting her bottom line.

“We lose business if they can’t get here,” Deferbrache said. “Especially with senior citizens, and they can’t get down through here.”

Deferbrache said she wishes DPW would send salt trucks down her street. She and her neighbors understand they’re on their own to handle the slick conditions.

“The neighborhood people who shovel, throw salt out and ride our cars back and forth in order to get it down enough so that customers and other people can get through,” she said.

Down the street from the shop, Taylor Thornell was struggling to get his car from the icy street onto his driveway. He said he would love to see a city truck or contractor dropping salt near his house.

“Makes it pretty tough,” Thornell said. “I mean the main street’s right there, but it takes forever to get out to them.”

Easley said they have discussed altering city policy about treating residential streets. For now, he’s not able to give specifics.

As of Tuesday, DPW has a full callout of 80 drivers working on primary and secondary streets. Those routes will continue until 11:00 p.m.

After Tuesday, Easley said 24 trucks will continue to watch for trouble spots into Wednesday morning.

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