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Democratic councilors wrangle road repairs for districts

April 30, 2014

Indianapolis could forego repairing some heavily traveled, winter-damaged roads to instead focus on shoddy streets spread among all City-County Council districts.

The new repaving project list is the result of recent negotiations between Democratic Councilor Vernon Brown, chairman of the council’s public works committee, and Department of Public Works Director Lori Miser. Brown said he expects the committee, which meets Thursday evening, to approve spending $8.3 million on emergency road repairs.

"We suggested they go back and redistribute the funds more fairly and equitably, and they did that," Brown said.

Brown and other Democrats on the committee voted April 3 to table DPW’s original request to spend $8.5 million on emergency repairs to the city's most heavily traveled thoroughfares in the worst condition.

After turning down DPW’s original request, Democrats complained that the proposed project list didn’t include any roads in some Democratic council districts. DPW countered that the project list reflected the worst roads with the highest traffic counts, regardless of council district.

Brown pointed out that DPW had identified a total of $24 million in road-repair needs throughout the city. The streets that now will be repaired are among those identified. (For the original project list, click here; and for the updated list, click here.)

Although DPW has agreed to spread the money around, officials aren’t happy about it.

“Opposing emergency repairs for this reason is senseless and detrimental to all Indy drivers, who use our most traveled thoroughfares regardless of the council districts they live in,” DPW spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson said.

The new list includes 37 street segments with at least one in each of the city's 25 council district. Twenty-two of the proposed repaving projects were not on the original list, which covered 23 thoroughfare segments with average daily traffic counts ranging from 4,000 (Arlington Avenue from County Line Road to Southport Road) to 25,000 (38th Street from Orchard Avenue to Kinnear Avenue). DPW did not provide traffic-count information on the new list.

In order to spread the money around, DPW has decided to forgo the largest of its original proposed projects, a three-mile stretch of East Washington Street from Southeastern Avenue to Emerson Avenue. The road touches two council districts, District 16 represented by Democrat Brian Mahern, and District 21, represented by Republican Ben Hunter.

The three-mile segment carries an average 24,000 cars per day, according to DPW. As the largest job on the original list, repaving would have cost $1.6 million.

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