Democratic councilors wrangle road repairs for districts

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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.


  • Irvington
    Everything going to the general fund would require everything to go through the Council. That's why money is earmarked.
  • Hmmm.
    Why don't they just use or borrow against the "97 million" they say they're going to get in "false homestead exemptions" http://www.ibj.com/removing-false-homestead-exemptions-to-yield-bonanza/PARAMS/article/47292 That money could cover that and then some. Anything to keep Ballard from crying with his hand out.
  • Wrong Nick
    The money wouldn't be there if it wasn't for the extra food and beverage tax, and increased hotel taxes and rental car taxes. The teams pay nothing. And I said in my post that I know the money is earmarked for that but it is stupid not to be able to use that money when it is needed for more crucial things other than making Simon's heir richer. Kinda like taking a vacation when your have a leaky roof and broken heating/ cooling system, yeah you may have said your going to put that money aside for a vacation but I would think the roof and heating would take precedence.
  • CIB Money
    • I agree with councilwoman Hickman
      As a registered Republican I agree with councilwoman Hickman. The district council is elected to represent the interest of THEIR district. It is only fair that the worst roads in each district get repaired. There are roads being repaired in Republican and Democrat districts. Maybe they city council won't approve the CIB budget (hint hint) and use that 16 million a year that is to go to the Pacers and fix the major thoroughfares. It is stupid to have money "earmarked" only for certain things. It all needs to go into the general fund just like a household budget works.
    • Stop the gimmicks
      The Democrats objections appear very petty, partisan, and inappropriate. However, everyone should oppose the Mayor's Rebuild Indy 2 proposal which would borrow against decades of future revenues to pay mostly for more street resurfacings which will last only a handful of years. It's never wise to take out a 25 or 30 year loan to pay for an item that won't last that long. Future generations have already had their hands tied enough by the City's leasing and selling away of our public assets.
    • I see your true colors
      I think "extort" would be a better term than "wrangle". It is obvious that the democrats' plan is to oppose every plan proposed by the current administration in a attempt to minimize the mayor. Well good luck with that. Their refusal to approve Rebuild Indy II is partisan politics at its worse. They seem to be ok with cutting off the nose of the city to spite the mayor. I attended the last Rebuild Indy Roadshow in Pike Township and saw DPW's proposals for much needed repairs to streets and new sidewalks. No democrat council members were present(District 7). Are they afraid to hear the will of the people?
    • Councilor Hickman
      If we made all our municipal decisions based on a fair and equitable system of getting what you paid for then certain parts of the city would be much worse off than they are now. For instance, why don't we distribute police and fire protection this way as well?
    • br resident do you really buy those lies
      As someone else mentioned the most severely decayed roads and busy ones should get priority. Who gives a crap what political party district they are in. Again this is why the statehouse had too intervene and kick their majority out in 2015.
    • Democrats
      Thanks God we have a Democrat majority in the City Council sticking up for ALL areas of the city, not just the ones represented by the Republican minority.
      • Pam Hickman
        Councilor Hickman, Your logic doesn't make sense. If a majority of the City travels down certain roads than it makes sense to fix those roads. Don't hide behind a Cricket park when you have an opportunity to fix major problems in the City. The issue here is the council would rather play politics with the Mayor instead of fixing issues. Business as usual for the majority party of the City Council.
      • Racial Code Speak
        why is it whenever the Indy City/County Council wants to exclude middle class whites from infrastructure improvements/repairs they scream that they're in 'republican districts'? how about some equity in street repairs regardless of color!
      • roads
        First Councillor Brown is not an AT Large Councilor. He is a District Councilor. The request was to spread the repairs around in the same proportion as it is being paid for by citizens. If you live in a district and pay for road repair, you should be able to get a return on your money. It is not an easy answer but then the dream list DPW gave was not a guaranteed list. It was their wish list. We have seen money spent elsewhere too many times before to let it be spent again on some special interest like the Cricket Field.
        • Dead link
          The original list link is dead. IBJ, pleae fix.
        • 54th street
          54th street between meridian and college has not been paved in 20 years. it is BY FAR one of the worst roads in the city. Democrats that live in MK should be outraged as I am.
        • Delusional
          Vernon Brown may be so delusional that he actually believes this is a good idea! Where is thougthful leadership on the Council going to come from?
        • Easy fix
          Politics aside, stop the low bid crap and we won't have shoddy roads to begin with.
        • What's wrong with politics
          Welcome to sleazy politics. I'm a democrat and keep getting more and more disillusioned by the political system. It's the system and the people who are engulfed into it. Why can't someone raise them self above the low integrity standards and become a normal human being. If they did, they would raise to the top of the system.
        • Be Careful What You Ask For
          I thought it was the Republicans who eliminated the at-large Council seats (held by Democrats); if you want people to be concerned about the whole City-County, you have to elect a few representatives that cover the whole City-County.
        • Dont worry Indyman 2015 cant come soon enough
          Democrats had the at-large seats taken away from them for a reason and its becoming more and more clear everyday why it makes sense to do that. Stop playing politics with our city or move back up to Chicago Democrats.
          • This is what is wrong with politics. It doesn't matter what is most needed as long as I get my cut. I really hope the Republicans and the press remind the voters of why the most heavily traveled roads are junk, just so a democrat councilor can tell their neighbors that they brought home the pork. When faced with the decision to benefit the most people for the most good or to benefit their own re election prospects, they strong armed the city. Very wrong. Someone please try to justify the democrats move for self preservation over the greater need for me.

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