Hogsett plans to boost spending on repairing, maintaining city streets

Indianapolis neighborhoods will receive millions of dollars in improvements to street and other infrastructure projects over the next year, Mayor Joe Hogsett plans to announce in his annual state of the city address Monday night.

Along with announcing the city’s annual infrastructure projects—which include $37 million in new spending on resurfacing and fixing roads, and $22 million invested in bridges—Hogsett plans to focus on improving maintenance to Indianapolis’ streets and leveraging private investment to pay for neighborhood projects.

Hogsett will pledge to use new budget surpluses to grow the city’s street maintenance crew by nearly a third—from 99 people to 135 people, a response to the dreadful winter the city experienced from a pothole and street maintenance standpoint.

“Because of our budget, we now can rebuild something the city once had,” said DPW director Dan Parker in advance of Hogsett’s speech.

In the early 1990s, Parker said the city used to have 300 people responsible for 6,500 lane miles of street maintenance. Now, the 99 current personnel are responsible for 8,100 lane miles.

The investment in new staff amounts to $2.5 million annually. The department will also invest in $7.5 million in new equipment, which will allow for the city to do minor resurfacing of its roads “in-house,” as opposed to contracting out for all of its work.

“We used to do all of this,” Parker said.

Chief of staff Thomas Cook said “there is money available” for the investment because of to under-spending in 2017 and getting a higher-than-expected influx of cash from tax revenue in 2018.

The mayor will also announce the results of a new public-private partnership infrastructure program, which will see 15 projects funded this year.

The goal of the program was to leverage private investment to bolster limited available public dollars—$4 million of city dollars, to be exact—into more significant projects than the city could take on by itself.

Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett said the projects—which include sidewalks, street resurfacing, paths, and bridges—will amount to $8 million in investment.

The selected projects include:

— working with the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields to install a multi-modal path and better crosswalks that will connect the campus to the Central Canal Towpath. Crosswalks will also be installed at 40th Street and Michigan Road, and will be improved elsewhere.

— creating a new multi-modal path along west 38th Street for International Marketplace customers and neighbors, between Lafayette Road and Michigan Road. The city will work with the International Marketplace Coalition to construct a 10-foot-wide path from Lafayette Road to and across Commercial Drive, with improved pedestrian crossings.

— a multi-modal path along the north side of Broad Ripple Avenue from the Monon Trail to Broad Ripple Park, which has been conditionally approved. This project is in conjunction with Broad Ripple Village Association.

— replacing and repairing four sections of sidewalk along Highland Avenue, East 10th Street, and Dorman Street. Cottage Home Neighborhood Association is the partner.

— increasing sidewalks to allow for safe and accessible connectivity for visitors and neighbors of the Edna Martin Christian Center, 2605 E. 25th St.

— Resurfacing roads and installing sidewalks at the former PR Mallory building, 3029 E. Washington St., to help students and neighbors. This project will be completed with the Englewood Community Development Corp.

— working with the Lockerbie Square Neighborhood Association to improve seven sites in the neighborhood.

Parker said groups representing 27 projects applied, and that some groups who were not picked may have projects that are feasible for the future.

The good news, city staffers said, is all the applications have been scored by the department’s engineering department, which will allow applicants to make educated revisions to their proposals.

“Some weren’t ready for prime time,” Bennett said. “Our hope is they come back next year."

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