Tired snow plow drivers continue marathon week

Drivers have worked 12-hour shifts for past week

INDIANAPOLIS - Pushed to their limits and still at it, the 180 city snow plow drivers and a large support staff continued their round-the-clock marathon to clear Indianapolis streets.

The drivers are tired after they collectively drove 18,000 lane miles in a 24-hour period. That is the equivalent of 36 cross-country trips in the past week alone.

During a shift change at The Indianapolis Department of Public Works garage, 90 snow plow drivers checked equipment, topped off fluids and readied themselves for yet one more 12-hour shift.

"We're headed out of the worst of this. But we still have a lot of things to clean, a lot of work to do," Stephanie Wilson said.

The work has fallen onto the shoulders of drivers like Robert Boling, who for the past seven days in a row, has battled the city's second-heaviest snowfall in history and the sub-arctic temperatures that followed.

"It’s packed. Packed snow is hard to remove. Generally we've got to wait on traffic and Mother Nature," Boling said.

However, an impatient public and the city's commerce can't afford to wait for Mother Nature to take her course.

Time is money and the city has already spent more than $2 million in the past week. For Boling, who has pushed snow for 27 years, a single shift is a relentless ballet of hand-eye coordination.
"Your hands stay busy in it, backing the blade back and forth, trying not to bury somebody's vehicle any more than what they already buried on them," Boling said.

DPW has assigned Boling to clear 60 lane miles of traffic on the near-southeast side. He will run his route as many as three times, clocking 180 miles during a single shift.

It's hard work, wrestling snow, a big truck and rolling traffic. But he says that’s not the most difficult part of his job.

"It's the hours actually. Other than that, it's pretty cool. I enjoy doing what I do," Boling said.

The city is still trying to figure out the bill for the massive snow removal effort and officials said the city has spent $1.5 million on private contractors alone.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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