INDIANAPOLIS – Monday night, Indianapolis’ City-County Council gave the Department of Public Works (DPW) $8 million to fix potholes and repave streets because of our harsh winter.
Also, council Democrats introduced a proposal to fund an additional $16 million in repair money, by combining $8 million from the Transportation General Fund and $8 million from the city’s Fiscal Stability Fund. That proposal will have to be heard in committee, first.
DPW has stated before there is $24 million in need to fix the worst of the worst when it comes to city streets. The streets targeted are main thoroughfares, according to the department, and don’t include side streets.
Still, at Monday night’s meeting to hand over the $8 million, both city-county councilors and the public appeared frustrated by all the pothole politics.
The $8 million measure passed by a vote of 24 to 5, but City-County Councilor Jack Sandlin was a no vote. He heard the proposal when it first came in front of his Public Works Committee in April. Sandlin said before the council, politics is playing too big of a role, because a list of streets had to be revised when some councilors objected.
“What happened at the first committee meeting is this was tabled, and came back to us with political changes,” he said.
Other citizens expressed their frustration at what roads are being fixed and why pothole patching is taking so long.
“My block is sinking, and we keep hearing about all this money,” said Amy Harwell.
DPW insists even the $24 million isn’t enough.
“I think the public should be enraged. They should be enraged that their streets are in such deplorable condition,” said Stephanie Wilson with the Department of Public Works.
Wilson said even if the agency gets a total of $24 million, provided the Democratic proposal goes through, it won’t be enough to fix a growing city with crumbling infrastructure. She said to get Indy’s roads, bridges, and sidewalks up to fair condition there’s a $1.1 billion dollar need.
DPW points to Mayor Greg Ballard’s “Rebuild Indy 2” initiative as the solution, securing $350 million for infrastructure repairs through a bond issue. It remains tabled.
“The Rebuild Indy 2 proposal, we can still entertain it. There’s plenty of time to do that, but these are things that need to be addressed immediately, and we are dealing with it right now,” said City-County Council President Maggie Lewis.
Council Democrats continue to express concern with how “Rebuild Indy” money was used, with millions going toward the World Sports Park, a facility designed for cricket.
Democrats insist they’re dealing with the city’s pothole problems effectively.
“You know, I have no time for the political potshots back at each other, so we are addressing the immediate needs, and that’s what we are going to do,” said Lewis.
FOX59 reached out for a statement from Mayor Greg Ballard after the council’s vote to approve the $8 million.
“After delaying pothole repairs for months because of politics, it would appear Democrats finally realize the damage caused by the historic winter. Now they need to help all Indy neighborhoods and stop playing politics with Mayor Ballard’s plan to put $350 million in street, sidewalk, and bridge repairs,” said Marc Lotter, spokesman for Ballard.