Is Indiana snow plow ready?

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As the days drew nearer for the second semester of school to begin at the University of Indianapolis, a sudden winter storm, known to some as “the winter stormageddon,” hit and paralyzed most of the state of Indiana. This storm not only dumped almost 11 and a half inches of snow on Indianapolis, it also brought along the phenomenon known as a Polar Vortex, which dropped temperatures well below zero. With all the snow on the ground and below-freezing temperatures, it was no surprise snow removal became a difficult task for snow plow drivers. With this in mind, I feel that the Indianapolis Department of Public Works did what it could to remove snow from the city streets, but there is still room for improvement.

According to an article in the Jan. 21 issue of The Indianapolis Star entitled “Snow removal breaking budgets in Indianapolis, suburbs” the costs of removing all of the snow, salting the roads and employee overtime are affecting the city’s budget. The article said that an estimated $5.1 million was spent to help maintain road conditions, and the airport, schools and others, spent an additional $1.3 million. Unfortunately, the city’s budget for snow removal is only $7.3 million, and that money is supposed to last through 2014. Also, this article reveals that more than 34,000 tons of salt have been used on Indiana roads, which is more than the DPW usually uses all winter.

All of these statistics indicate that Indianapolis really did try to remove as much snow as it could. Using more than half of the overall 2014 winter budget shows that the DPW is very invested in people’s safety. However, there are still things that could be improved.

The article included an interview with Mayor Greg Ballard. Ballard said that the DPW has learned a lesson from all of this snow: start sooner. Ballard said that the city usually waits until six inches have fallen before they release the plows to begin the clearing process. If the plows were released sooner, would the roads still have been as bad as they were? I don’t think so. The roads would have been better because the plow drivers would have had more time to remove snowfall in the days before the storm. I also feel that if the city had more than the 90 heavy-duty plows that the DPW uses, the streets would have been cleared faster.

Overall, Indianapolis did what it could about plowing the streets, but the city could have done some things differently, to clear the streets faster. If this snow had fallen during the first week of the second semester, I doubt that we would have had classes. Despite some limitations, some things could be improved to help with future snow removal. Hopefully, the DPW has learned from this winter stormageddon.

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