Mayor Ballard defends city's snow fight

Mayor Greg Ballard

Mayor Greg Ballard acknowledged the complaints the City of Indianapolis has been getting over its response to this week's snowfall. But overall, he says city Department of Public Works crews did a good job clearing the roads during what has been a very difficult week for travel.

One viewer rated Indy Snow Force's performance as F-. Eyewitness News asked the mayor how he would rate it.

"I don't give grades to anything. I've learned not to do that over the years," the mayor said. "You have to understand what's going on here. This is the biggest snowstorm since 1978 followed by Arctic temperatures. We're not gonna get back to normal in two days. I find it rather remarkable, almost miraculous, that we had people going back to work on Wednesday morning. When you look at historical patterns, that's amazing."

Regarding side streets, most of which saw a plow at least once after the city deployed private contractors, the mayor said, "I'm not sure where the expectation came from with the side streets that it would be down to the pavement. It was only four or five years ago that we started going into neighborhoods. The city never did that before until I became the mayor. We thought going into neighborhoods was the appropriate thing. It was designed to clear a path so you can get in and out; for emergencies also, but to get to the doctor, to get to school or whatever it might be. That was what it was designed to be. It was never designed to clear it all out because that would be enormously expensive - not to mention on the side streets, because when we push it to the side, where does it go?"

Ballard said the new strategy is better than the previous one because in the past, residents would have to wait until nature took its course, or just muddle through.

"Stuck in my driveway again. I did 5 mph on Madison. I did 5 mph on Thompson. THANKS FOR CLEARING THE ROADS, INDIANAPOLIS!" posted Duane Grandziak on Facebook.

"I just came up Madison. It's gonna be slow-going. We haven't been above freezing in five days. When these chunks of ice come together and they refreeze overnight, it's going to be there for a while. We don't have semis like on the highway which are gonna crush all this. We just don't have that. This was just a fact of the temperature and precipitation that's out there right now," said the mayor.

Despite the complaints, Ballard said most of what he's been hearing is kudos for the DPW workers pulling 12-hour shifts five days in a row.

"People just have to be patient," said the mayor.

Julie Carr, another WTHR Facebook follower, suggested that the city talk to Chicago or Minneapolis about how to handle large snowfall events.

"We hear a lot about what other cities are doing. Somebody in the Statehouse said, 'we know how to do it up there in' - I won't mention the city that he's from. We checked that city out and they were still in emergency conditions 24 hours after we were. There's this romantic notion that all these other cities do it better. That just is not true," said the mayor. "Not every big city clears the streets and goes to pavement in 24 hours. This is hard work on the part of a lot of people. I try not to listen to that because I know it's not true. I talk to other mayors. I know that's not true."

His final message to people with complaints?

"Be patient because the temperature conditions are such that it's gonna take a while to do this. It's not magic. There's not something that we missed along the way. This is just a combination of precipitation and the temperature."