Residents react to DPW’s progress on roads after first month

INDIANPOLIS, Ind. – In the month since Mayor Joe Hogsett’s emergency declaration, Indianapolis has spent $8.5 million trying to get roads in better shape.

DPW crews have filled thousands and thousands of potholes. Contractors have repaved small sections or major thoroughfares too riddled with craters to patch.

Still, there are more than 6,000 pothole requests open as of Monday night.

And that’s despite the work of 13 of the usual 20 crews, which toiled all day Monday to continue closing out requests.

“We still have a ways to go,” said DPW spokesman Warren Stokes. “This emergency road repair is just going to go until we feel like we’ve caught up.”

Last month, the City-County Council approved a $14 million appropriation for emergency road repairs as the mayor asked. Of that total, $13 million was set to go specifically toward labor and materials costs for fixing the roads now.

With $8.5 million left, that means nearly two-thirds of the emergency money is gone.

As far as results, the city’s data shows the number of closed potholes are now outpacing new ones. And Stokes reiterated that DPW officials expect the money they’ve received, plus the money already budgeted for snow removal and pothole patching, will be sufficient.

But sufficient to do what?

That’s what several residents we spoke to wondered.

Many are happy to see the impact of strip patching in areas, but are worried to see so many old repairs reopening with each round of weather changes.

“They’re getting back to where they were,” said Susan Morwick. “Some are just as big and some will probably get bigger.”

The slow car crawl of drivers trying to avoid losing a tire has returned, with potholes, to 79th near Georgetown.

Morwick believes repaving or strip patching across from her neighborhood as crews did farther down 79th is needed.

“I mean they’ve already patch-spotted twice now, so I think if we could get them to actually fill it and pave it, would really be a better solution,” said Morwick.

But strip-patching isn’t cheap and DPW’s repair schedule has generally reserved the process for the highest-traffic roads.

Martindale-Brightwood Neighborhood Association President Amy Harwell calls the state of roads around her house “ridiculous”, but says the current conditions have been a long time coming.

She says she and other community leaders fought for years to get various mayoral administrations and their public works departments to maintain their neighborhood roads, without much success.

That’s why she fears they may once again get overlooked for strip-patching.

“The street is split in one, two, three, four different areas on 29th Street,” said Harwell. “The potholes are bigger than the flowerpots and something needs to be done.”

Harwell says she plans to keep fighting to make sure her neighborhood gets its fair share of the “emergency road repairs” pie, or at least what’s left of it.

“I give them credit for what they’ve been doing so far, but I want to see more done,” said Harwell.