Mayor to take Rebuild Indy 2 on the road

This winter has been brutal for Indianapolis roads.
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Many roads have taken a beating this winter. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard wants to do more than plug potholes. He's pushing "Rebuild Indy 2" as a way to repave streets full of cracks and craters, instead of just patching them.

He takes his initiative on the road Thursday with the first of a dozen neighborhood meetings.

The mayor has said the program would cover repaving all Priority 1 & 2 streets in the city or those in the worst condition.

The $350 million program also calls for new sidewalks, trails, bridge work and park improvements.

Ballard pushed the same plan last fall, but it failed to get traction among Democrats who worried about the size of the loan and the city's ability to pay it back.

But given the brutal winter and impact on roads, the mayor could have an easier sell this time, at least among people like Phil Rendell.

Rendell works for Piazza Produce, delivering fresh food to restaurants in Indianapolis. Seventeen years on the job, and he's never seen anything like the potholes this winter.

"The holes, my goodness, they're huge," said Rendell.

While city crews and contractors have been working to patch them up between storms, it's been hard to keep up.

Rendell likes the mayor's plan to repave chuckhole-ridden streets instead of repairing them.

"On a scale of 1-10, it's a priority 11. We definitely need the streets done," he said. "Hopefully they get what they need to do all the streets. Every last one needs a makeover, but if not, do the worst ones first."

The plan does need the Democratic-controlled City-County Council to sign off.

Democratic councilor John Barth agrees the needs are there but he said he wants to make sure the city has the money to pay off the long-term loan.

The initial Rebuild Indy program, which paid for numerous street and infrastructure improvements across the city, was funded with $400 million from the sale of the city's water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy.