Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Potholes: Indy Star Columnist Erika Smith Gets Facts Wrong ... Again

Indianapolis Star Erika Smith pens a column complaining about potholes and the failure of the Mayor and the Council to fix the roads:
It's the end of September. It hasn't snowed in months. Yet, most of the same potholes that
were there when our seemingly endless winter finally ended are still there today. And by now, most of them have turned into full-blown craters.

Some streets have been "repaired" — and I use that term loosely, given the way work crews have sloppily tossed a tarlike substance into so many potholes across the city. But many of those streets are just as rough on vehicles as the streets that haven't been touched. (Central Avenue just south of Fall Creek Parkway comes to mind.)

The idea that we are about to enter another winter with roads that are in just as bad a shape as they were at the end of last winter is ridiculous. Particularly because, according to weather forecasters, this winter could be as cold or colder than last winter.


Democrats on the City-County Council and Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's administration have spent months negotiating how to fund RebuidIndy 2, a Republican-backed plan to spend $300 million fixing roads, sidewalks and curbs. So long, in fact, that construction on those projects can't begin until 2015.

That means you should probably start saving money to replace damaged tires and rims over the next six months. Either that or check out IndyGo's schedule.

This is just one more sign of how dysfunctional and ineffective our city government has become.
Smith apparently doesn't know, or maybe doesn't care, that Rebuild Indy II is not about fixing potholes.  The proposal pushed forward by the Mayor was to borrow money over 30 years (to be spent in 3 years) for infrastructure improvements, including paving roads.  The $150 million proposal would have cost taxpayers nearly $300 million once the cost of interest on the money borrowed was calculated.  Does it really make sense to borrow money over 30 years to pave a road?  Democrats have acted as responsible stewards of the taxpayers money in questioning the Rebuild Indy II and demanding changes.

But Erika Smith does not concern herself with facts regarding Rebuild Indy II, including how the projects are financed.  Nowhere in her article is the size of the project mentioned or that those improvements we would enjoy today would be financed by leaving the bill for the next generation.

Worse yet, the Star's columnist seems to have totally confused Rebuild Indy II with the a separate "emergency" measure introduced to fix potholes.  There was some initial complaints that all council districts were not included, but changes were made and the pot hole proposal passed within 28 days of being introduced. 

But, of course, Erika Smith doesn't mention that fact either.


Coogles said...

Paul, I don't always agree with you, but you're spot on here. The column was emotional and uninformed, rather than looking honestly at from where the money for Rebuild Indy 2 would come and how it would be financed. Not touching on how the passage of the emergency funds came into being is unforgivable within the context of her column.

None of this is new with Erika, though. Every article of hers seems to propose some new public expenditure without worry of how it would be financed.

Fundamentally, though, this city and many like it across the country are going through a transition where the burdens of maintaining our bloated road networks, both in quantity and in size, are catching up to us. The current pattern of development is bankrupting cities all across the country and the transition isn't going to be easy.

Flogger said...

Erica's column should have contained facts concerning: How are our Streets and Roads funded either for a total repaving or repairs. Given the mileage of roads in Marion County is fairly static I would hazard a guess there should be a schedule or formula to determine when the streets should be due for a repaving or a proper job of repairing them.

It is quite evident either the funding to maintain the infrastructure is lacking or funds that should be dedicated to infrastructure is spent elsewhere. (The CIB never seems to be short of cash to hand out to the Colts or Pacers.)

Indianapolis infrastructure for the most part outside of the downtown area is falling a part.

Jon said...

And in today's Star we see Varvel's comic about billionaire owners and the other opinion writer for the Star complaining about tax breaks for casinos. Funny he's offended by tax breaks for casinos but not at all concerned in the millions of dollars our sport's team owners receive.