INDIANAPOLIS — Hundreds of thousands of fans are preparing to pack the stands for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 and that means the roadways are guaranteed to be busy, too.
While the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) provides a smooth ride, the Indy Pothole Viewer map shows there are streets across Marion County that Hoosiers don’t feel the same about.
According to the portal, right now, there are more than 10,600 requests for service, while more than 21,300 requests have been closed since Dec. 2021.
As people get ready to make their way to the Hoosier State for race festivities, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (DPW) said it has already been putting in long hours to attack pothole problems.
Year to date, DPW officials said their workers have shoveled more than 5,000 tons of asphalt into potholes to smooth out the roadways across Marion County.
“We have people out every day that there is good weather that would allow for pothole filling,” said Ben Easley, spokesperson for Indy DPW. “We had 70-plus people out today. That’s pretty standard for a normal workday for us.”
While workers generally put in an 8-hour day, road crews have often been working 10-hour days to keep up with the volume, Easley shared, noting that pothole filling and street maintenance maintains their top priority.
If you’ve noticed the roadways appear to be faring worse after the winter this year, you’re probably not alone.
“By the numbers we have been able to put more asphalt into the streets this year, even with the lower numbers, the more vacancies we had this year than last year,” Easley said.
“Part of that, though, is related to the weather. We just had a more severe weather system this year that caused more potholes to open. So we think of this year as a year when we’re seeing more deterioration, and so that’s why potholes and that street operation has to stay number one for us right now,” said Easley.
Indy DPW covers Marion County, with the exception of four excluded cities, Easley said. Because the county-wide thoroughfare plan existed in the county long before Indy and Marion County combined, Indy DPW continues to hold the plan.
“So a lot of those thoroughfares are still under our maintenance jurisdiction. Generally, county-wide, it is Indy DPW that is taking care of thoroughfares and certainly in most of the county, the residential streets as well, but there are some places like the excluded City of Speedway where we don’t have complete jurisdiction over the local roads,” said Easley.
He further explained, “So if we’re talking about Indy 500 for example, we’re probably looking at the thoroughfares in and around that area and not as much as the local streets.”
When asked whether there is anything particular going on as far as road improvements on the thoroughfares in and out of Speedway from Indianapolis, Easley said, “Certainly the district that covers the area around the Speedway and that area is very cognizant that we do have an extra number of folks coming in and using those roadways.”
“We are probably going to focus on the thoroughfares to make sure those look good, but all of that to say we are not going to be pulling people from every corner of the county and putting all of our resources into the area around Speedway because we know there are plenty of residents in Marion County beyond that segment, who need that street maintenance on their roadways just as well,” Easley continued.
CBS4’s crew drove thoroughfares connecting Indy and Speedway and reported many potholes appeared to be filled as of Monday night, even the streets marked by red dots, indicating open pothole requests.
Still, DPW is facing a staffing deficit of about 100 positions right now, including 50 people they are working to hire in the operations department, which is in charge of filling potholes and monitoring illegal dumping and traffic signals.
“I think it’s important to note that the positions that we have are funded and they’re ready to go as soon as we have people apply for them,” said Easley.
Additionally, DPW is looking to hire CDL drivers and recently held a hiring event to do so. They’re hoping to encourage people to come out and apply for positions and encourage anyone looking to join the department, to check out the listings, here.