City, state snow removal plans draw complaints in Indianapolis

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Blankets of snow fell fast across central Indiana, reducing traffic on major thoroughfares to a crawl.

Candis Taylor commutes into downtown from the northwest side.

"It usually takes me about 15 minutes to get into work every morning. It took me almost an hour," she said in disbelief.

"I didn't think it would be this bad, I knew it wouldn't be pristine but I'd think they'd at least clear them, it looks like they hadn't been plowed," added Brenda McGaw, looking at inches of snow untouched on the street.

From the heart of downtown to social media, the rant over the city and state's storm response - like the snow- piled up.

"Every now and then there's a fumble and I think this has been a fumble," said Indianapolis City-County Councilman Zach Adamson, who questioned the Department of Public Works' storm plan.

"It wasn't meant to be a political statement or to be too edgy at all," he said of his posts, "just to say 'Hey we've got a city that's got to function and our streets are covered in snow'."

At the ICON Salon where Adamson works, chairs sit empty from cancellations. Taylor, the salon's owner, can't believe Delaware Street right across from the City-County Building didn't see more plows.

"Our clients just have to be able to get to us. With the streets like this, nobody's able to come to us," said Taylor.

DPW spokeswoman Lesley Gordon says the city had a full contingency of 90 drivers prepping city streets since Wednesday.

"We're looking at a dry, fluffy snow that came down fast, almost four inches in four hours - that's an inch an hour - and that's challenging on the road," said Gordon.

The city isn't the only one that couldn't keep up. Area highways were snow covered and backed up, too, despite 170 drivers out on area state roads, including 68 crews in Indianapolis and Marion County.

"It might take more than an hour, sometimes two or three, for a driver to run their entire route especially if they're dealing with heavy morning rush hour traffic," explained INDOT Spokesman Nathan Riggs.

Riggs understands the challenges of the road, he is a former driver for INDOT. Eyewitness News asked Riggs what grade would he give the crews for Thursday morning.

"Well I'm not going to access any letter grades to our performance, but all I can say is keeping state highways as clean and safe as possible during winter weather is INDOT's top priority," he replied.

But he was quick to point out that it wasn't just the fast-falling snow, but fast drivers that made for a troublesome mix.

"Roadway conditions can deteriorate and they should adjust their driving according to the conditions. So there's work to be done on both sides," he said, reminding motorists of their responsibility during inclement weather.

Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"Winter storms like this one make travel a challenge for Hoosier motorists, and that's why the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) put more than 800 trucks on the road beginning late last night," Pence said. "I am grateful for the hard work of the team at INDOT in keeping the state highways open and safe for commuters even while this storm continues.

"Hoosier motorists may be assured that the State of Indiana will continue to monitor the road conditions and weather and respond accordingly. We also encourage drivers to do their part in keeping the highways moving by avoiding unnecessary travel and making way for plow trucks and crews."

Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, says Department of Public Works "SnowForce" crews have been on full deployment since 11 a.m. Wednesday, pre-treating, then plowing roads after the snow fell.

"This storm hit at the worst possible time, dumping an inch of snow an hour immediately preceding and during the early part of the morning rush hour. The Indy SnowForce will remain out in force and expects the roads to be in much better condition during the afternoon rush hour," Lotter said in a statement.

Get INDOT road reports here.

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