City to spend millions of dollars, declare emergency over deteriorating roads

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The city of Indianapolis will allocate millions of dollars to fix potholes and resurface roads, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Friday.

Hogsett declared an emergency that authorizes the Department of Public Works to begin aggressively addressing the roads. He’s requesting the use of millions of dollars from the city’s rainy day fund.

Hogsett called this a problem decades in the making and said the topsy-turvy nature of winter weather has made things even worse.

“We’re trying to respond to what has been an unusual winter,” Hogsett said. “It’s not just the weather—the water, the rain, and the usage.”

Under Hogsett's plan, the city would dedicate a total of $100 million to fixing the roads in 2018. That includes $13 million from the city’s rainy day fund plus $1 million in additional funding as well as $88 million already allocated to road projects this year.

In order to dedicate that extra $14M, though, Hogsett will need the city-county council's approval. He planned to ask for that approval at the council's next meeting on March 12, but FOX59 has since learned the council may hold a special meeting on February 28.

The money won’t solve the city’s road woes, Hogsett acknowledged, but the mayor said it would be the start of a long-term project.

“It will probably take more authentic, genuine discussion about a long-term solution if we are to maintain infrastructure in our city,” Hogsett said.

As part of the short-term plan, contractors will join DPW crews next week and begin strip patching, which is a process where they shave down the road and re-pave it in areas where potholes have taken over.

FOX59 has heard from numerous citizens who questioned the state of the city's roads and the work that was done in January to patch potholes, which have now re-opened.

DPW Director Dan Parker said the January blitz cost around $150,000 and he stood behind the work his crews did then.

"We follow best practices and ... the asphalt is made to INDOT specifications," Parker said.

Parker instead blamed the extreme swing in temperatures for the potholes opened back up.

"We’ve essentially had four or five spring thaws already and it’s still February. So usually this problem occurs in March but for this year, we’re dealing with it in January and February and we’re seeing it in the number of chuckholes reported," Parker said.

As for getting your money back if you hit a pothole and sustain damage, last year's numbers show the city only approved 25 out of 267 claims, which is nine percent.

Hogsett told FOX59 he encourages drivers to file a claim, despite the low percentage. So far in 2018, 129 have already been filed and only one has been approved.

In answer to a question from a FOX59 reporter, asking if Hogsett would be willing to look at the city's process for granting requests, given the low number, Hogsett said, "I'll certainly look into it."