The Hoosierist: Can The City Make People Trim Trees?

Trecherous branches, pavement preference, and the Megabus stop. Ask The Hoosierist.

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Q: My neighbor’s dying tree leans out over the sidewalk and a nearby road. I’m worried someone will get hurt if a branch falls. Can the city make people trim trees?
A: The Hoosierist figured he would need to chat with two or three government wonks to find a definitive answer for this one. Instead, he discovered the City of Indianapolis’s municipal code absolutely obsesses over tree maintenance. There’s actually a list of species you can’t plant next to roads (don’t even think about a silver maple or a paper birch), and rules against flora that obstructs the vision of motorists (so they can’t see the streets for the trees). If a sick tree on your property overhangs a public thoroughfare, you must either trim it yourself or watch while the city eventually does it. And you probably don’t want the city to do it, because their crews work with all the finesse and restraint of a Marine Corps barber.

Q: Why are some Indianapolis streets covered with blacktop and others with concrete? How do they decide which to use?
A: It all comes down to who’s doing the paving. The city prefers easy-to-pour, easy-to-patch asphalt, which is why it covers roughly 80 percent of the Marion County roads overseen by the Indianapolis Department of Public Works. But housing developments get to pick their own surfaces, and some of them go with concrete. State roads and interstates are also outside the DPW’s purview, so many of them use it occasionally as well. Though The Hoosierist, who has watched his concrete patio slowly disintegrate under winter’s assault the last few years, has a hard time explaining that decision.

Q: Why doesn’t the Megabus use the new Julia M. Carson Transit Center? Its regular pickup point is only a block away.
A: The Megabus doesn’t park there for the same reason commercial airliners don’t land at Air Force bases—the facility is government (or, more precisely, city) property. The Transit Center was partially financed with federal cash, and one of the many strings attached to the deal was a prohibition against private interests using it. Plus, there’s little room to spare. The two-acre Transit Center already handles hundreds of IndyGo bus arrivals and departures each day. It’s not like the city has anything against private-enterprise transportation, however. The Amtrak/Greyhound terminal is only a half-mile away, and the Megabus connection is a block down the street at City Market. Which, given the food court, is a not-at-all terrible place to wait for your ride.
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