Indianapolis Department of Public Works apologizes for poor road preparation

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Department of Public Works Director Dan Parker faced the media alone Wednesday, apologizing for his department’s poor preparation ahead of the overnight ice storm that caused widespread accidents and delays.

“This is case where we were wrong, and we’re here admitting it,” Parker said, adding he was not making excuses, but did have an explanation for the Indianapolis drivers.

“The forecast that we rely on did not call for this weather so we had a normal crew on duty last night,” he said. “As soon as we saw the weather change, as soon as we had drivers show up to these garages, within a half hour they were turned around, put in salt trucks and they were out.”

Parker says DPW uses a paid weather service, the national weather service, and several other forecasting models to make their daily plan. He included local news meteorologists like WISH-TV’s Storm Track 8 in that list.

“No forecast had it right,” Parker said. “We watch all of them.”

However, Meteorologist Ken Brewer told 24-Hour News 8 audiences last night at 10 p.m. to expect slick roads Wednesday morning, explaining that the late night rain might not persist until the morning, but the freezing temperatures would cause for a messy commute.

Ken Brewer’s forecast from Tuesday evening. (WISH Photo)

“All the forecasts were the same. They called for the wet weather to end last night around 8 o’clock. It called for being dry today. That was completely wrong,” stated Parker. “We are not meteorologists at DPW. We cannot read the mind of mother nature. But we do evaluate it every single day during the winter to make sure were deploying resources when we need to.”

Some say it’s not just DPW, the forecast, and mother nature carrying the blame. It’s also poor city leadership.

Senate Republican Chair Jim Merritt pointed out Mayor Joe Hogsett cancelled his announcement on a new pothole-filling initiative Wednesday morning and didn’t show up at 10:30 a.m. to stand with DPW like an 9 a.m. email from DPW promised. Merritt sent out this statement:

Did average Joe Hogsett miss his own weather press conference today because he fell in a pot hole or because his street was a skating rink? Since he couldn’t make it to his own press conference, he sent someone else to blame the media for why our salt trucks weren’t out ahead of the storm.

Average Joe Hogsett should know that Indiana winters can be harsh and unpredictable. What is his plan to make sure that we can get to work on time and safely? It might be a new year but it’s the same old Average Joe Hogsett.”

As for the next step for DPW, Parker said he does not intend to change his equipment or weather forecasting subscriptions. He said 17,000 tons of salt are still in DPW barns with 8,000 tons more on the way. As for the potholes, Parker said 17 crews were out on the roads Tuesday working, and he hopes to send them back out again Thursday if the weather clears.

“Please report the chuckholes. We rely on citizens’ input on that. Right now were running 1,000 hole reports less than last year,” he said. “We rely on those to deploy our crews.”

You can submit a pothole report for the interstate here or on city streets here.