Indy neighborhoods relying on contractors and residents to handle snow

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Many Indianapolis residents are relying on themselves or private contractors to handle the aftermath of several rounds of winter weather over the last few days.

A longstanding city policy in Indianapolis states that the Department of Public Works won’t call out private contractors to plow residential streets unless the city receives six inches of snow or more in a single weather event.  The city hasn’t made that call since the winter of 2015 and 2016, at a cost of $500,000.

DPW Spokesperson Warren Stokes says the city doesn’t have the resources to regularly handle residential streets, in addition to main and secondary streets.  And many of those neighborhood streets are two narrow for city trucks to safely pass through as residents routinely park on both sides of the street.

“If you do your best to maybe shovel your sidewalk and shovel a pathway to your car, we’re going to do our best to make sure when you get on a major thoroughfare, you’re going to be driving as safe as possible,” Stokes said.

People who’ve lived in Indianapolis for a while are familiar with the six-inch policy.  Many neighborhoods call out their own contractors to clear their streets.  But some residents don’t expect to see a plow pass down their street all winter.

“Usually when it gets really heavy, really deep, we’ll see a plow come by,” said John Dickey.  “But I haven’t seen one this year.”

Kathy Bedan says she’s okay dealing with a couple inches of snow on her street.  But when accumulations start to pile up, she and her neighbors routinely shovel their street in front of their own homes so they can reach the nearest main street.

“I’ll see Pleasant Run Parkway and it’s right there,” Bedan said.  “And everybody will just start shoveling just so we can get just a block.”

Different cities have different policies regarding when city crews plow residential streets, depending on population, resources and how many lane miles they have to cover.  In Carmel, three inches of snow or more can be enough to bring city trucks into larger subdivisions.  Otherwise, many neighborhoods rely on contractors they have developed a relationship with over several years.

Peter Beering, owner of Beering Enterprises, Inc. says his private snow removal business had a slow start to this winter, but business has picked up in recent days.

“This year, we’re actually behind what our normal snowfall would be, but they have come on top of each other,” Beering said.

Beering says every snow event is unique and brings its own specific challenges, especially on the heels of freezing rain and ice like central Indiana received last Friday.

“So there’s a fair amount of ice underneath now a couple inches of snow, depending on what side of town you’re on,” Beering said.

Indianapolis code also states that shoveling sidewalks is the responsibility of individual property owners and residents.

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