Transportation Chairman: INDOT Investigation Could Hurt Road Project Funding Effort

Sep 24, 2015

Credit JW801 / https://www.flickr.com/photos/132926214@N07/21120045540/

A key legislator says a review of whether INDOT contractors have been using substandard asphalt could complicate efforts to increase highway funding.

INDOT instructs contractors to use recycled asphalt, and has been testing samples to see if the recipe is causing roads to deteriorate sooner than they should. Depending on how many roads fail those tests, it could cost the state as much as $71 million in extra repaving costs.

House Roads and Transportation Chairman Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) says he's "not super-concerned" about the issue:

“Everything that I have seen is INDOT is doing their job,” Soliday says. “Now I’m concerned that they are very clear with the public.”

But, Soliday says the problems could jeopardize a bipartisan consensus to steer more money to road projects. That money is going to have to come from somewhere, and Soliday says it'll be difficult to get public support if people believe the state is wasting the tax dollars they've already paid.

Soliday says INDOT needs to determine whether its specs were inadequate or if contractors haven't followed them. If they can't agree, he says, they may need an outside engineering expert to weigh in.

“Maybe out of Purdue -- one common practice in some industries is the contractors would pick an engineering expert, INDOT would pick an engineering expert and the two would pick a third,” Soliday says. “And between the three, they would say, ‘Here is a reasonable specification.’”

Soliday says it's critical for INDOT to be open with the public about what it finds.