Report: Indiana infrastructure needs billions in work

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A civil engineering group that surveyed Indiana's infrastructure has given the state's dams and wastewater treatment systems low marks and says roads, bridges, dams, railroads, airports and treatment plants need billions in improvements to meet future needs.

The report by the Indiana section of the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Indiana a D+ in its first report card on the state's infrastructure. That's slightly better than the D grade given nationally.

The report rated each type of infrastructure on a seven-component scale by engineers who specialize in that category. Grades were based on condition, capacity, operation and maintenance costs, future funding and public need.

Bridges fared the best, earning a C+. The state's lowest grade was a D- for both wastewater treatment and dam conditions. Airports received a C, roads a C- and rail and drinking water were both rated D+.

"While some improvements have been made over the past few years, much work remains," engineer Katherine Graham, who supervised the report, told The Times in Munster.

The report did not suggest how to pay for improvements as Indiana's struggles with dwindling tax revenue and a disappearing surplus despite millions in cuts.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said funding for roads and bridges depends heavily on spending decisions at the federal level.

He said the state also is using money from a lease of the Indiana Toll Road to develop projects that encourage new business and residential development.

"Our long-term goal is to use this infrastructure that's being built to spur jobs in the private sector and growth in the private sector," Wingfield said. "That is what's going to really help everyone else along."

Karl Zimmerman, an assistant professor of engineering at Valparaiso University, said Indiana should focus on maintenance for current systems, especially water and wastewater systems whose failure can affect human health.

"We have a tendency here in the U.S. to buy new and throw away when done. Infrastructure doesn't work that way," Zimmerman said. "We have to maintain it, because it's way too expensive to keep buying new.


  • Money better spent
    INDOT's spokesperson Wil Windbag, should be advising the media that INDOT is not interested in maintaining the roads we have. They are soley focused on funding and building yet another un-needed highway. The New-terrain I-69 is budgeted to consume nearly $1B for just the first 3 sections, Evansville to Crane. That is at least $300,000 short of the Major Moves money the legislature dedicated to that project. And it falls 75 miles short of Indianapolis. Where will the money come from to build the complete I-69? Wil Windbag wants to blame the feds, but INDOT has money to fix and maintain our existing roads if they gave up on building new and discarding the old, just as Prof. Zimmerman points out.

    Responsible spending on infrastructure and to encourage future growth, attention should be turned to reliable mass transit systems in our cities and connecting all our communities rather than building yet another road.

    We have greater priorities than to construct this boondoggle of a highway, built for the glory on Daniels on high.
  • Sigh
    Nothing like a report from a completely disinterested party.

    Still, I'm sure they're right.

    I'd much rather see us spend money on infrastructure that will help us compete than on some of our other dubious ventures.
  • Failing grads for more than schools.
    Is it no wonder our schools are failing when the government that is to provide for the infrastructure is near failing? Perhaps we should fire the politicians who are responsible! How do you think they can "fix" the schools when they can't even fix those things they are responsible for.?

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  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.