INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis is planning on investing $1.15 billion into reconstructing transportation and storm water infrastructure during the next five years.
The budget also includes nearly $400 million in capital improvements in 2023. Among those projects is another $25 million to fix broken down neighborhood streets in Indianapolis.
Sylvester Smith lives on one of those roads.
“Right now, it’s terrible,” Smith said, referring to Mayfair Drive in front of his house of more than 35 years.
Smith said the street hasn’t always been bad but over the last couple of years it has really taken a turn.
”You have to zig zag down the road in order to not hit the potholes and tear your car up and then that creates a problem when school buses are coming down,” Smith said. “Then you got to wait for the school bus because you don’t want to go through the craters in the road.”
DPW engineers are tasked with determining what residential roads in Indy will be getting reconstructed in 2023 with the $25 million. Dan Parker, the Director of Indy DPW, said this is heavy duty work.
”We’re not just taking off the top layer and putting nice asphalt down so it looks good,” Parker said. “It’s rebuilt the right way.”
Part of the determination process is a city map labeling each neighborhood by PCI, or Pavement Condition Index. The best neighborhood roads are colored green, yellow, orange and red for the worst roads.
Parker said the information is given to each city county councilor and they select which areas should be DPW priority. From their engineers determine which roads will get a facelift from the $25 million, focusing on those in the red category on PCI.
”The councilors provide us their priorities and then we assign those to designers who go out with the money allocated by each district,” Parker said. “We’re going to select streets to get the maximum bang for the buck.”
Smith’s street and a few around it are labeled red and Smith said he’s not surprised.
”I think it’s past time for a full fix,” Smith said.
The first round of $25 million for neighborhood streets happened in 2022. Parker said DPW ended up spending more than expected.
”What we found last year is a lot of these streets were in really dire condition and needed a lot more help than even the $25 million,” Parker said. “We ended up spending 40 million dollars on that first round.”
Parker and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett both call the DPW budget historic and Parker said people should expect even more construction in 2023 than in 2022.
”Next year alone we’ll have almost $400 million worth of capital investments and with that we’re going to be able to do a lot of construction next year and folks should get ready for a busy construction season next year,” Parker said.
But it’s still not enough to keep up with the road conditions in Indy.
Parker said they’ve been focused on a pothole crisis on main Indy thoroughfares the last few years and now the main pothole problems are on neighborhood streets.
”It’s shifted, we have now more potholes on residential streets than we do on thoroughfares,” Parker said.
Parker said they’re looking for every dollar – local, state and federal – to get to that point.
”How do we get more money to be sustainable into the future to keep up with infrastructure,” he said.
The 2023 DPW proposed budget was unanimously passed by the Public Works Committee last week and now looks for full approval from the City County Council.