This summer’s rocky ride on pothole-strewn streets could get even bumpier next year.
Streets were ravaged by the record-breaking sub-zero weather last winter. The cold froze the ground for long periods, and when it thawed, water seeped under surfaces, causing them to fall apart.
City officials said Wednesday that none of the “worst of the worst” streets targeted for repairs with $24 million in emergency funding has been fixed yet. And only about 15 percent to 20 percent could be revamped before the construction season ends.
That means yawning, leftover potholes and those that have been patched could resemble lunar craters when spring rolls around next year.
Blame it on the sometimes slow wheels of the legislative process and a bit of politics.
“There is no way to get 200 lane miles resurfaced in one month,” said Stephanie Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works. “All things being perfect, we expected to get 15 to 20 percent done.” . . .
Republican Mayor Greg Ballard’s office said the council moved too slowly to approve the 200 lane miles of repairs to get all the roads done this year.
“They waited for months to pass the funding, so late in the construction season, that DPW can’t guarantee they’ll get them all fixed,” said mayoral spokesman Marc Lotter. “The council waited while playing games with the money.” . . .
Of the streets targeted with the $24 million, contractors have been hired to repair just four stretches so far, with the other 125 segments expected to be bid out by Oct. 16.
The department has received guarantees that the first four stretches will be completed by year’s end. They are:
• Washington Street from Southeastern Avenue to Emerson Avenue.
• Westfield Boulevard from Meridian Lane to Kessler Boulevard East Drive.
• Westfield Boulevard from 75th to 79th streets.
• Kessler Boulevard from Illinois Street to Allisonville Road.
Department Director Lori Miser said council members seemed to underestimate how long it takes to line up firms for construction projects — a process that can take four to six months . . .One of the biggest complaints I've heard is that the City has repaved certain streets repeatedly over the years that weren't in need of repaving work at all while ignoring streets that have received nothing but patchwork repairs for more than a decade. Leah Orr is quoted in the story as asking why North Alabama Street near downtown was repaved yet again despite being in relatively good shape. Miser told Touhy that it was scheduled as part of DPW's regular maintenance plan and was not included in the emergency repair list. That should tell you everything you need to know. If you live on a street that hasn't been repaved for a very long time, it's not because the City lacked money for the repairs; it's because the administration had other spending priorities. When the administration spent the hundreds of millions in Rebuild Indy money like drunken sailors, it made sure that every street or sidewalk that was anywhere near the downtown area was repaved or rebuilt for the umpteenth time just to impress the out-of-town folks coming into town for the Super Bowl.
If someone wanted to complain about something, they should be complaining about the piss-poor job the contractors hired by the city to perform the repaving work do. I don't know how many times I've noticed a newly-paved street have standing water every time it rains because the contractor didn't take the time to do the work right so water could drain into the storm water drains, which causes the pavement to deteriorate more quickly. As long as the contractors are making their pro-rata share of contributions to the mayor's campaign committee, the contracts will keep flowing regardless of how poorly they perform their work.