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City officials call for change in infrastructure funding, including pedestrian and school safety

Posted at 7:49 PM, Jul 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-06 19:56:53-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The roads we drive on in the city of Indianapolis have been a hot topic for years. From potholes to crumbling neighborhood streets, residents are fed up.

Now, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is working to do something about it.

The city says infrastructure concerns have been an issue in the city for years. They say it’s a lack of funding from the state.

“We pay more in state taxes than we receive back,” Hogsett said.

The city is calling on the Indiana General Assembly to change that. They are requesting that the legislature change how roads are funded in the state, and they want it to happen by changing the road funding formula.

“We want a formula based, not on the length of a road, but rather on the number of vehicle miles traveled on that road,” Hogsett said.

Hogsett says one-lane roads in rural counties receive the same amount of funding as six-lane roads in the city, despite the city roads having more vehicle traffic.

He would like to see the Indiana General Assembly overhaul the funding available by merging the application-based Community Crossing grant program with local distribution of the Motor Vehicle Highway Account. He says this change would give Marion County $49 million more in infrastructure funding yearly.

Indianapolis drivers say this change is needed.

“Some would say janky,” Paris Proctor said while describing the roads in the area. “I think it’s the land of opportunity to fill those potholes. Overall, there is wear and tear to your car, not just in the wintertime but in the summertime too, so I think it’s an opportunity for the city to take responsibility for.”

The change in funding is something the city says will also benefit central Indiana as a whole.

The graphic below shows how much surrounding counties would get in infrastructure funding if the formula were changed.

In addition to the proposed changes of the road funding formula, the mayor proposed more funding for the neighborhood infrastructure investments.

In the 2024 budget, he plans on adding $25 million for residential street improvements. Along with that, $5 million in funding for alley repairs over the next three years.

The city is also making investments in pedestrian safety and school zones. They are adding flashing beacons to 25 schools on main thoroughfares.

Schools like Vision Academy say they are in need of this addition.

“We have a lot of parent and staff concerns,” Kelly Herron, Executive Director for United Schools of Indianapolis, said. “We see people ignore our SROs or our staff members who are in the streets trying to help students cross, so this will be welcomed by everybody.”

The city hopes to have these safety features installed in the coming months.

Another pedestrian and bike safety initiative Hogsett wants to bring forward is allowing ParkIndy to ticket more aggressively for parking violations in protected bike lanes. This proposal is something that will be brought forward during Monday night’s City Council meeting.

Republican candidate for Indianapolis Mayor Jefferson Shreve sent the following response to Hogsett’s infrastructure plan:

It’s amazing how many new plans are being unveiled as Election Day nears. After seven years of ineffective leadership and as voters are desperate for new leadership, only now does Joe Hogsett have a plan to combat Indy’s crumbling infrastructure. I'm a former CEO, not a career politician. I'll lead Indianapolis in the right direction from Day 1 and take personal responsibility for our city’s safety and infrastructure.
Jefferson Shreve

The state legislature has established a task force to figure out the best way to properly fund roads across the state.

The Co-Chair of that task force, State Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) sent the following statement in response to Hogsett’s plan and request of the Indiana legislature:

I'm reviewing the proposal and all options are on the table at this time. Funding Indiana's roads is no doubt a partnership between the state and local governments. While the proposal would pull levers on the state level, further local options to improve roads currently available to the city, such as the wheel tax, are an important part of the discussion. I look forward to working with state and local leaders on this important issue as we move ahead.
Jeff Thompson