Fill. Tamp. Roll. Repeat.
That is the rhythm of the never-ending task of patching potholes in Indianapolis.
Recently, FOX59 tagged along with a crew from the city Public Works Department as it traveled from street to street. The late spring/early summer stretch of mostly dry weather has allowed crews to deal with this duty on a more regular basis.
And there is plenty of this work to do.
Below you will find maps for all the city/county council districts. Indy DPW shared them with us. They are from last year when residential streets were assessed and graded. As you can see, the worst streets are in red. Some of those red streets have been addressed. But there is a lot of red streets. A whole lot.
This year, just short of $160,000,000 will be spent on transportation projects in Indianapolis. It will hardly put a dent in the problem of the city’s shabby streets.
How much would it take to fix everything?
“That number would be in the billions,” said Dan Parker director of Indy DPW.
Repairing every street at once is not realistic said Parker. He thinks the problem has to be tackled gradually.
Parker said, “We need something in the neighborhood of $200,000,000 to $300,000,000 more per year to put us in a position where we can start eating into that problem and not continue to fall behind.”
For that money, Indianapolis is looking to state government. Parker explains the move is in response to state road repair funding formulas that put the city at a disadvantage.
Below, you will find how the funding formulas distribute approximately $1,750,000,000 from the Motor Vehicle Highway Fund and the Local Roads and Streets fund. As you can see, it’s complicated.
Most of the money for both funds comes from Indiana’s gasoline tax. The biggest recipient of this huge pool of cash is INDOT which collects over 60% of both funds. The rest is distributed to counties, cities, and towns across Indiana.
The calendar year for fund distribution is August through July. With another installment coming, Indianapolis has collected just short of $65,000,000.
In his quest for more road repair funding, Parker has identified what he believes is a flaw in the state funding formulas. The bigger of the two state funds, the Motor Vehicle Highway fund calculates how much money a municipality gets based on road mileage. But this gives six-lane city roads the same money as a one-lane road in a rural county.
As much as he would like to see state government reconfigure funding formulas to consider lane miles of roads, instead of just total length; Parker knows how difficult that would be, “That’s gonna be hard with the funding formula. There’s always winners and losers if you change ‘em.”
“The ultimate question is, is it fair and equitable, the way the system is set up?”, asks State Senator Michael Crider.
Crider, a Republican whose 28th District includes the Marion County township of Warren, is the chairman of the State Senate’s Homeland Security and Transportation Committee.
He defends the current road repair funding formulas, but adds, “Anybody who drives the roads knows we need some improvement.”
What about diverting some of the state government’s multi-billion-dollar surplus to pay for rehabbing streets?
“I think that’s going to be a conversation we’re gonna have along with every other person who comes with their hand out asking for some relief from the surplus,” says Crider.
That conversation will heat up in January when lawmakers return to the State Capitol to begin work on the 2023-2024 state budget.
And Parker is ready with his sales pitch, “Indianapolis is the heart of the central Indiana economy. That economy needs a transportation network that’s properly funded.”
In the meantime, the pothole patching crews continue the familiar rhythm.
Fill. Tamp. Roll. Repeat.