Potholes in Indianapolis

I am going to go off my normal vague book, concept script and talk about something very specific today. The nightmare that is the pothole crisis of Indianapolis. I am not just going to bitch about them though. I am going to offer real solutions.

First we need a primer.

Every city in USDA growing zone 5 and 6 has this problem. Our temperature range and variation is such that water alternatively runs off and freezes over and over throughout the winter.

Cities such as Indianapolis that are on the edge of those two bands, also get more erratic weather. For example, 4 different times this winter alone we have seen temperature ranges of 50 degrees or more within 48 hours, with the low being below freezing.

I am not going to take the time to explain the physics of that and why it is bad for concrete…you can look that up if you doubt the following statement. Going from freezing to 50 degrees and back to freezing within that short a period of time is tragic for road life.

So we have the problem….so do the surrounding counties. Why is it so bad in Indianapolis.

Three reasons the road conditions in Indianapolis are so bad.

  1. The previous city administration sold off road maintenance assets to make the budget look good. It worked, but the roads didn’t get the maintenance they needed.
  2. Twice a day 140,000 people commute into and out of this city. They pay NOTHING in taxes towards the roads they use to do so. Their taxes go to their home counties.
  3. Marion County has 30% of all the road miles serviced by funds from fuel and excise taxes, but gets less than 8% of that repair and maintenance budget.

How to fix the problem.

Obviously we cannot do anything about the maintenance assets being sold off. We just have to play catch up.

As for those commuters. We need a commuter tax. City County Council is supportive of that, but under Indiana’s tax laws, we need the State House’s permission. Call your state Representative, State Senator, and the Governor. Write them as well. This needs done, yesterday.

The third issue is another phone call and letter to the State House officials. I don’t know how they determine that formula exactly but it is not fair, and it is not productive.

Why should the State house care?

Simple. This is the capital city of Indiana. It should be a point of Hoosier Pride that our roads are at least in decent condition.

If they don’t have pride, they should consider the economics. Indiana’s GDP is about $360Billion. Indianapolis’ GDP is about $118Billion. At almost 33% of the states GDP, the conditions of our roads matter. Especially given the large percentage of that that comes from shipping and convention dollars.

At any rate, that is my view. It seems pretty simple. The Statehouse needs to get realistic about what is good for our state as a whole. Call them and remind them.

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