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Council to vote on spending $14M for roads, bridges, streetlights

September 11, 2017

The Indianapolis City-County Council is poised to vote Monday night to spend an additional $14 million to upgrade city transportation infrastructure this year—including the first installment of a three-year plan to update the city’s street lights.

The spending increase is possible partly because of $8 million in revenue the city is expecting to receive this year because of the state’s legislature’s vote to raise the gas tax. The city will also tap $6 million from a pot of county option income tax revenue that was returned from the state last year. Since then, $39 million in COIT revenue that needs to be spent on transportation funding has been sitting in the city’s rainy day fund.

A council committee unanimously approved the $14 million spending plan Aug. 23.

The new spending includes the first installment—$5 million—of the $12 million total three-year plan to update the city’s 27,000 streetlights with light-emitting diode, or LED, technology and add 4,000 more streetlights by using the estimated $800,000 in annual savings.

Vop Osili, a Democratic council member, praised Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration for taking “this bull by the horns."

“This has been such a longstanding issue in my district, and I’m sure, so many others,” Osili said.

The streetlight funding, along with a $1 million match to pay for resurfacing a portion of 38th Street from Emerson Avenue to Arlington Avenue, will be paid for by the COIT revenue.

“That’s a big project for us,” said Department of Public Works Director Dan Parker, referring to 38th Street. “If you’ve driven on East 38th Street, you understand why that needs to happen.”

The $8 million in gas tax revenue will be used to pay for several “shelf ready” projects for the city, including upgrading Mitthoeffer Road between 21st and 38th Streets, and rehabbing a bridge on South Keystone Avenue over Pleasant Run Creek that Parker says “desperately needs work.”

“These are all projects we had designed with the hope the state would take some action,” Parker said. “Then they did. We’re ready to go.”

Approving the spending now could allow the projects to get off the ground later this year or early next year, Parker told council members in late August, by allowing them to get under contract.

Council Vice President Zach Adamson said as much as the city “can get done this year, the better.”

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