NewsPublic AffairsGovernment / April 17, 2014

Compromise on Fund Road Repairs?

Sam Klemet

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works is looking into how to pay for repairs of the city’s most damaged roads.

About $24 million is needed because of problems caused by winter weather and DPW says $8 million can fix the worst of the worst.

Earlier this month, the Department asked the Public Works Committee for the $8 million.

The request was shot down because some members were concerned about which roads would be repaired, arguing that those identified were primarily in Republican council districts.

Democrat and Committee Chair Vernon Brown is proposing an idea to distribute money countywide, not based on severity.

"Every district has roads that are in need," he said.  "That's the problem.  There is a $24 million hole based on the winter damage.  Every district has needs based in the $24 million overall total."

"In my district alone, District 18, the estimated need from the winter damage was $675,000 and they were allocating zero dollars to District 18," said Brown.  "So, every district has excessive damage from the winter storm."

But, Stephanie Wilson with DPW says there is danger in not addressing the roads with the greatest problems.

"The priority really does need to be on repairing the worst roads that are the highest traveled first," she said.  "Those are the roads that everybody drives on the most regardless of what district they live in.  So, what could be well intentioned 'hey we want to make sure we are distributing this well' could end up hurting people from every district."

The money would come from the Rebuild Indy fund, which is for infrastructure repairs.

"We are excited that we are making some headway and there is progress towards securing some funding to at least get some of these worst roads done," said Wilson.  "But, again we are really hoping we can continue that conversation and secure even more funding."

Brown will present his proposal at the next committee meeting in May.  If approved, it will go in front of the full council later next month.

The committee also will consider allocating money from the transportation general fund for snow removal.  DPW budgeted for $7-million, but spent $14million and the money will help fill that gap.

 

 

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