Northeast Indy residents urge city to fix condition of 38th St., DPW points to IndyGo project


INDIANAPOLIS — People are frustrated over the condition of 38th Street between Sherman Drive and Emerson Avenue. They want the road to be fixed, even if it is a temporary solution.

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works said they understand concerns over the 38th Street condition and “it continues to be a top priority for DPW.” This segment is receiving major improvements as part of IndyGo’s Purple Line Construction. But that does not begin until late summer according to IndyGo.

“We respect the feasibility of being tied to the Purple Line, all of which we want to accept for all of the infrastructures for decades that have been neglected we want to see improved,” Ashley Gurvitz, a northeast side resident, said. “But what’s our temporary fix now?”

DPW said they will continue to respond to pothole and street maintenance requests that are reported along this stretch of road but want residents to understand it is a short-term solution until the purple line construction. Neighbors said they understand, but their requests have gone unanswered for years.

“We were just discussing this exact tract of land up here,” Glenn Powe said of a 2019 discussion among neighbors online. “We came down the street and took pictures of it. Several of us went online to the Mayor’s Action Hotline, logged in, followed the system’s prompts and we made complaints about it.”

Still, they said the city never came out to temporarily fix these issues. We requested all complaints made to the Mayor’s Action Center from January 1, 2019 through today.

Update on Friday afternoon, an open records request shows one dozen requests for chuckhole repairs on this section made to the Mayor’s Action Center. The city shows they closed each of these cases besides one filed on April 24, 2019.

DPW added that while the segment from Sherman Drive to Emerson Avenue has not been resurfaced, the city did complete a $1 million project in 2018 to resurface E. 38th Street from Keystone Avenue to Sherman Drive, and another $2 million was spent in 2018 with Community Crossings funding for resurfacing from Emerson Avenue to Arlington Avenue, with more sidewalks and drainage improvements.

DPW said the funding was separate on this project so it was not that this segment was excluded by the city. Some neighbors also questioned whether the location of this stretch of road plays a role in the struggle they describe to get help for repairs.

“I actually do believe if this had been another part of town like 96th Street, 82nd, 86th Street, especially those areas where there’s a lot of commercial business, I actually do feel like they would have repaired it a lot faster,” Powe said.

DPW denies the location of the need plays a role in which projects are chosen for repair.

“I think this viewpoint fails to consider the robust DPW capital program which yearly includes transportation and stormwater infrastructure improvements in all parts of our county,” Ben Easley, DPW’s Chief Communications Officer, said. “It overlooks our prioritization system used to address streets based on their deterioration level instead of their location, striving for the most equitable distribution of capital projects.”

Easley also provided this graph of resurfacing projects scheduled for 2021, in addition to smaller projects completed in 2020. He said, “It could be argued that this might not have been possible if DPW were to have allocated funding to an alternative project along E 38th Street just before it was dug up and reconstructed by IndyGo.”

Manor Court34th Street38th Street
Arthington Blvd34th Street38th Street
Oxford Street34th Street38th Street
35th StreetEmerson AveForest Manor Ave

Residents said they are hopeful their passion to see this main road in their community fixed will urge city leaders to find a solution.

“It’s better we start the work now and if one voice alone can’t be heard, it’s better to in every aspect amplify everybody that for their whole lives dealt with problems on 38th Street,” Gurvitz said.

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