Kristin Camiliere hits the street to ask students about what they think about the potholes around the city and what they do to avoid them.
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Last Thursday, crews from the Indianapolis Department of Public Works began road work as a part of a $400 million infrastructure plan for the next four years. This plan includes repairs to segments of Westfield Boulevard and Pennsylvania Street, both close to campus.
The plan also includes strip-patching parts of 15 other roads throughout the city and work on infrastructure like bridges and sidewalks.
Strip-patching is a more permanent fix than just filling potholes, but it can also be more expensive. It involves stripping down a whole section of a road about four and a half inches deep and then repaving the entire section.
Strip-patching has already started on Westfield Boulevard between Meridian Street and College Avenue. However, a very damaged segment of Westfield Boulevard, which runs along Holcomb Gardens, will not be completed until after construction on a nearby floodwall is completed. This is because of the heavy equipment, which needs to drive over the road for the wall construction.
Ally Ledder, a junior marketing major, recently got a flat tire on this same road. Ledder was on a late night run to Taco Bell when she hit a pothole.
She said she was happy to hear that there is now an extensive plan to fill potholes in the city, but she also questioned why it had not been done sooner.
“It surprises me because Domino’s had an official plan to fill the potholes before our mayor did,” Ledder said, referring to the restaurant’s Paving for Pizza program.
Domino’s does not currently include Indianapolis in its nationwide plan to fill potholes.
The current four-year plan will address many areas throughout the city, including the area where Ledder damaged her tire. However, there will still be areas which need fixing beyond the scope of this plan.
Dan Parker, director of Indianapolis Department of Public Works, noted that it could take as much as $1.5 billion to bring everything up to fair condition. Parker pointed to the large size of Indianapolis as part of the reason for why the cost is so high.
Meanwhile, drivers in the city will still be affected until all roads can be brought up to a desirable condition.
Megan Richardson, a senior political science and strategic communication major, recently got a flat tire on one of these roads. Richardson was driving down Michigan Road near the International School when her tire popped. She had to wait an hour and a half for a temporary fix and will now have to get a new tire for her car.
This was concerning to Michael Kaltenmark, Butler’s director of external relations. Kaltenmark said poor infrastructure, in general, can have a negative impact on the school’s efforts to recruit students and events to campus. He also noted that it could limit the city’s ability to attract big events and companies to the area.
“I hate [the potholes],” Kaltenmark said. “The crumbling infrastructure of Indianapolis isn’t good for anybody, period.”
Emily Koschnick, deputy communications director for the City of Indianapolis, said neglect under previous administrations was the reason for the current condition of the roads. She also described the new plan as a bipartisan effort and a top priority under the current administration.
Employees of Indianapolis Department of Public Works have already filled thousands of potholes within the last week using hot mix asphalt. This mix is a more permanent solution than the cold mix often used during the winter months as a temporary solution.
Both Kaltenmark and Parker highlighted the importance of Butler students and community members continuing to report potholes so they can be filled, even in areas not covered under this plan.
Potholes can be reported online or through the Indy Works app.
Featured photo by Ben Caylor.