City-County Council prepares to review Hogsett’s $14.5 million road repair plan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indy's Department of Public Works announced that road crews have filled more than 17,000 potholes so far this week. On Wednesday night, the city- county council will meet to discuss the multi-million dollar budget needed to finish those repairs.

Mayor Joe Hogsett (D) asked for roughly $14 million to pay for the road repairs, in addition to the $88 million already budgeted for infrastructure work in 2018. DPW Director Dan Parker has said that if the city-county council doesn’t approve the mayor's spending proposal, the agency may have to cut back on the number of repairs it does.

Ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, City-County Councilor Marilyn Pfisterer said she wants clarity on DPW’s plans for the money, namely, where and how the money will be spent and the exact process the agency is using to replace potholes. She pointed to highly scrutinized images of crews throwing asphalt into potholes that are filled with water as being a waste of taxpayer dollars.

“There’s no sense in frittering away $14 million on something that is not being done thoughtfully,” Pfisterer said.

 Another concern frequently brought up is DPW’s selection process of what roads are repaired and when. Warren Stokes, a DPW spokesperson, said the agency prioritizes which roads are fixed according to how much traffic it has, and the type of traffic it has.

“Meridian, College Avenue, those are the type streets that we’re looking at. That’s because not only are a lot of folks using it to get back and forth from work, but a lot of emergency vehicles are using those and a lot of hospitals are located near major thoroughfares,” Stokes said.

Stokes said he couldn’t speak to what type of consequences a no vote on the mayor’s proposal would have on agency repairs, but did speak to the importance the mayor’s emergency declaration currently has. The agency’s current pothole blitz was prompted by the mayor’s emergency declaration, so technically DPW is already spending the money. Stokes said not only is that money currently allowing the agency to conduct the blitz, but it’s also allowing the agency to keep the blitz going for much longer than a normal blitz.

“We’re going to keep using hot mix. We’re going to keep strip patching. The plan is to go maybe four to five weeks just until we get to the spring and we can really start construction season,” Stokes said.

Wednesday's meeting is a proposal introduction of the measure for $14.5 million for the roads. It will then move to the Public Works Committee, and debated during a meeting Thursday night. The public will be able to comment at that time. If it passes the committee, the vote will likely occur during the full council meeting on March 12.