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We Think
Staff Editorial
Friday, March 15, 2019

     Indianapolis, over the past few years, has developed a crisis in relation to our roads and streets. We have potholes that are quickly turning into craters and roads that are being stripped to the ground. Our roadways have even made the New York Times on the subject of potholes. It is time to get rid of the reputation of terrible infrastructure and try to improve on the city we know and love.

     Indianapolis is a sprawling city by area and most residents have to drive to be a functioning member of society here. There are two problems with that: public transportation is cheaper inherently, but in Indiana a non-option, and the roads we drive on make it unbearable. Public transportation in Indianapolis is defined by the IndyGo bus system. The system itself is plagued by inefficiencies and often not feasible for many people who rely on our roadways to get from home to work. That leaves us with the option of going through the process of becoming one of hundreds of thousands that traffic Indy streets and the 465 loop, buying a car and finally going on the roadway to be met by potholes.

     Potholes are a symptom of the overall neglect that has been shown over time to our infrastructure. The city government has decided to put more resources into infrastructure projects, which is a step in the right direction. However, the money that is being set aside is not even close to what the city needs to overcome its woes. Back in February 2018, the IndyStar reported that Indianapolis needed $732 million to upgrade our roads from “poor” to “fair.” The number that Joe Hogsett is setting aside for this year alone only adds up to $126 million, a fraction of what is needed. Even worse, from then to now, our roads, bridges and potholes have only been marginally repaired and in isolated cases.

     This presents an issue that is going to be harder and harder to handle, not only for the government of Indianapolis, but also the people that drive on the roads everyday. If we cannot fix our roads right now, the damage done to roads will rise. As of now, it will take 1.56 million dollars to pave ten miles of roads in Indianapolis. If compared to the early estimate in 2018 of 8,100 miles of roads needing repair, and likely more so now a year later, the price tag will not be going down for the city; it will be going up. Over four years, Hogsett and the City-County Council set aside $400 million for the budget; and at the pace they are going, the true cost might be double that to marginally resolve our road crisis.

     Another problem with the city’s approach is the lack of a holistic approach to the growing number of potholes. For example, the plan that Joe Hogsett has put forward in January includes extensive resurfacing projects for specific stretches of road around the city. One of these projects is Mitthoeffer between Prospect and Washington Street, where they plan to completely re-do the street. This is a great solution for the pothole problem instead of filling individual ones every so often. Unfortunately, the “major” resurfacing projects that Hogsett has put forth are only a drop in the bucket of projected costs for Indianapolis.

     However, the problem does not just stop with administration, it is a lack of action from Indianapolis residents to call in the potholes in their own neighborhoods. Indy.gov, the website for the Indianapolis government, has set up the “Indy Pothole Viewer” which tracks the number of potholes around Indy. It conveniently separates potholes into open and closed and allows Indianapolis residents to report a pothole. In theory, from this site, there are only 7,500 potholes around Indianapolis streets. As staggering as that number may seem, that’s hard to believe, especially when the data around Warren Central specifically seems really clear of potholes. As Warriors, we know what we drive on coming into school every day and there are definitely more than just two or three potholes. We have a responsibility to report these, so the city government knows where to put resources. If we do not advocate for ourselves, we cannot get the results we want.

     Understanding that we can only operate as scouts for the next issue for city government resources to fix, the true brunt of the barrel relies on comprehensive assistance from government to better fix our roads. Hogsett and the City-County government are reaching their capacity of resources to give to the road systems. The budget of Indianapolis that passed last fall is $1.2 billion. To fulfill the full need that our roads require, the budget would need to be closer to the $2 billion mark. It would be unreasonable to expect for Indianapolis taxpayers to handle this alone, so we do need a massive influx of dollars either from state or federal funds to help alleviate our problems. As the Crossroads of America and as a metropolitan area of almost two million people, our pothole crisis can affect Indiana and even the U.S. at large economically.

     A joint effort from the city-county government, which as of now is drowning in issues created by years of neglect that cannot be pinned on Hogsett or current members of the City-County council, and from the state and federal government is what is required to overcome our current woes. Without quick support to create a comprehensive plan for the city government to execute from all forms of government, our situation will only worsen.

     For readers to assist in helping solve our pothole problems, go to maps.indy.gov/RequestIndy to report potholes or call 317-327-3622 for the Mayor’s Action Center.