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Two men team up to tackle Indy’s pothole problem themselves

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Two men aren't waiting for the city to fill the potholes in their neighborhood. They're doing it themselves.

Chris Lang and Mike Warren created the grassroots organization "Open Source Roads" to fill the potholes around town.

So far this year, they've filled seven potholes with their own tools and asphalt. Last year, they filled more than 100 of them.

“We just set up cones around a pothole one day and were like, 'alright I guess we either do this or we’re just talking about it,'" said Lang.

The duo says they got the idea from a group in Portland, Oregon, who do the same thing there.

“There’s nothing special about me or Mike," Lang said. "It looks like that, but we’re just two students who care about something. Everyone else cares about the potholes and I feel like a lot of other people would be perfectly willing to get their own tools and material together to fix a pothole in their own neighborhood if they weren’t afraid of repercussions for it.”

Warren and Lang do not have a permit for what they're doing, but say the city hasn't tried to stop them.

Betsy Whitmore with the Indianapolis Department of Public Works said obtaining a permit to work on city-owned streets and right-of-way is important so the city knows what's going on with public infrastructure.

Whitmore released this statement saying in part,

It is important to have a permit to work on city-owned assets. This ensures that the city knows what work is being performed on public infrastructure, who is doing the work and what materials are being used. It's worth noting that work done for the city by contractors, such as resurfacing, also requires right-of-way permitting.

The greatest concern for anyone doing work on open roadways is safety. There are safety standards and policies for everyone's protection while working in open traffic. When DPW crews are filling potholes on roadways, it's considered a work zone.
Permits may be applied for through the Indianapolis Department of Business and Neighborhood Services.

Lang says when working on the roads, he and Warren set up cones, wear safety vests and have an extra person available to direct traffic.

“I’d say the safety factor has been outweighed by the need to action," Lang said.

So far, Lang estimates they've spent between $800 and $1,000 for tools and asphalt. Part of the money has come from their own paychecks, donations and their GoFundMe, titled "Campaign to fix MUH ROADS."

Warren is currently developing a smartphone app where Indy residents can share pothole problem spots. The app will also help the duo track the potholes they've filled around town.