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Indy Public Works fixes ‘erosion of the roadway’ after I-Team 8 investigations

A view of a pothole on North Forest Avenue when turning off East Washington Street just east of downtown Indianapolis and west of South Rural Street. Crews on Aug 10, 2023, were working to repair the roadway erosion, city officials said. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Department of Public Works is repairing a huge pothole on Forest Avenue near the 2400 block of East Washington Street on the east side of Indianapolis after a series of I-Team 8 investigations. 

Public Works told I-Team 8 that a broken pipe helped create the huge pothole.

Sidney Powers says her business depends on delivery drivers being able to get to and from her warehouse on Forest Avenue. “We are incredibly pleased our employees are as happy. It is all they are talking about when we got the call last Friday that they were going to shut the road down for three days it didn’t even bother us we are so happy to get it fixed.”

This is no ordinary pothole repair, but then again this is no ordinary pothole.

Public Works hired a contractor to dig up several feet of old asphalt to get to the root of the problem: a broken sewer pipe.

Brandon Herget, director of Public Works, said, “The base layer and the soil underneath being impacted by that sewer failure, it ultimately led to the erosion of the roadway.”

Business owners who depend on Forest Avenue say they have complained about the pothole for years.

“Every year they will come and lay new pavement down, but it breaks within a few months.” Powers said.

I-Team 8 first reported on the pothole in summer of 2022. That day, a private company paid for a load of gravel to fill the pothole.

I-Team 8 returned in the winter and again early this summer, and saw the hole get wider, deeper and more dangerous.

On Thursday, the asphalt crew used a special machine to grind up and remove all of the old material one pass at a time.

Herget says Public Works applied some less-than-permanent solutions to the pothole over the years as engineers worked to isolate the root cause: the failed sewer line.

“Underneath the pavement, which isn’t an easy-to-see or understand failure, there is actually utility failure far beneath the surface, so we worked with our partners at Citizens Energy over the last few weeks for them to prioritize in their workflow addressing the underlying sewer issues. They were able to complete that work last week, which allowed our crews, our contracting crews, to go out this week and do the resurfacing above those utilities.”

The Public Works director added that the entire stretch of Forest Avenue will get a fresh layer of asphalt over the repaired sewer line.

Powers and the other business operators who depend on Forest Avenue to keep the wheels of industry moving along smoothly says it’s about time.

“This is the first time they are fixing it the proper way, I think,” Powers said.

Forest Avenue should reopen to traffic by the weekend.

A spokesperson for Public Works told I-Team 8 that the repair to Forest Avenue was expected to cost from $90,000 to $100,000, including sidewalk repairs and curb ramps.