Indianapolis snow removal hits $2.4M; icy streets remain


The City of Indianapolis reports it spent $2.4 million on snow removal since last week's blizzard and used 14,370 tons of salt. Despite those efforts, many side streets are still covered in ice.

More than a week after the blizzard, the city's major thoroughfares are fine, but side streets remain slick and hazardous.

Jane Virgin, navigating her way down a slick north side street, said, "It's horrible. You're driving and sliding all over."

Reggie Jordan agreed, "It's very treacherous on some side streets in the neighborhoods."

Jordan is a letter carrier who covers many miles each day.

"I was going down New Jersey earlier and it was all ice and there were cars on both sides of the street and my vehicle. It's rear-wheel drive. I started sliding so I had to pump to stop from slamming into one of the cars," said Jordan.

He's not the only one who wishes the streets were easier to navigate.

Department of Public Works spokesperson Lesley Malone admitted, "We do get calls."

While the city plows side streets after a snowfall of six inches or more, in most cases, it doesn't salt them, given the money and resources involved.

"There are over 4,000 residential lane miles in the city, so we don't salt those unless there's an extreme hazard and intersections or areas that lead to secondary and main thoroughfares," said Malone.

The icy conditions have contributed to a bump in business at Passwater's, a body shop in Broad Ripple.

Shop Manager Bill Presslor said on the roads that aren't plowed or salted, "There are a lot of ruts and bumps and that can throw people off into parked cars on the side."

Those run-ins with snow and ice aren't cheap. Just to replace a bumper cover can run $800 to $900.

Malone said drivers sustaining damage can file a tort claim against he city. But to collect on it, they have to show, among other things, that the city was negligent.

She also encouraged residents concerned about a residential intersection to call the Mayor's Action center (327-4MAC), noting, "We address those case by case," sending inspectors out to see salting is warranted.

Jordan said it's not just the streets that worry him.

"It doesn't help that some people haven't cleared their sidewalks," he said. "That's even more dangerous for me. I'm worried about slipping and falling."

City ordinance does require homeowners to shovel their walks within a day of a snowfall.

A spokesman for the Department of Code Enforcement said they had taken 18 reports on unshovelled walks and done 47 inspections. The spokesman said no fines yet, they were just "encouraging people to do their civic duty."

Cost breakdown:

The Department of Public Works released the estimated cost of snow and ice removal from the multiple snowfalls that occurred last week, including the heavy snowfall on December 26, 2012. These numbers cover resources used to plow and salt over 6,000 lane miles of city thoroughfares and plow an additional 4,000 lane miles of residential streets. These figures include labor and material cost from December 24, 2012 to January 3, 2013.

Total costs = $2,415,102

Labor hours: 16,385
Labor costs: $403,883
Overtime hours: 9,188
Overtime Cost: $265,651
Equipment cost: $285,194
Salt: 14,370 tons
Salts costs: $1,061,836
Contractor Cost: $450,000@