DOT IN CRISIS: Indiana discovering pervasive problems with recent road projects

Sept. 23, 2015

Some 200 projects, totally $71 million, are under review

Indiana state transportation officials have begun testing samples from $71 million in pavement projects in state laboratories to uncover flaws in the asphalt mix used. According to officials, some 200 recent road project could potentially fault and crumble year ahead of their intended lifespan, due to contractor error in the mixes used.

“Our concern is, did (the contractors) include enough binder to make the pavement perform as it was intended,” said Robert Tally, INDOT deputy commissioner for materials and construction management, who went on to confirm that testing is ongoing and results are as-yet inconclusive.

Nonetheless, INDOT has already notified local transportation officials that the lifespan of their new roads could be 30% shorter than usual.

The sweep of the potential road failures includes only projects active in 2014. Officials said they can't be sure there aren't more faulty roads from past years. Concern is growing, notably in light of persistent funding worries, leaving state-level agencies bereft of the kind of dollars it would take to rectify this sort of unexpected problem. The asphalt problems come at a time when Gov. Mike Pence and state lawmakers are already grappling with how to pay for road maintenance over the coming decades amid stagnating gas taxes. The Build Indiana Council, a coalition of construction trade associations, estimates the state needs an extra $1 billion each year to adequately maintain state and local roads.

INDOT has not revealed the contractors or projects under scrutiny because of the ongoing nature of its review, but did confirm that the asphalt work alone cost $71 million. 

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