DPW still building sidewalks with poles in them

Shelby Street sidewalk reconstruction
Shelby Street sidewalk reconstruction

Last week I blogged about a tremendous project taking place on the south side of Indianapolis. That project of course is the Shelby Street bike track.

Shelby Street sidewalk reconstruction
Shelby Street sidewalk reconstruction

However, I received an email with three pictures from an Urban Indy reader that showed how someone is already screwing up this project. You can see that a familiar theme is rearing it’s ugly head once again in the shape of old utility poles being disregarded as new concrete is put down; in this case one that would be easy to relocate.

Shelby Street sidewalk reconstruction
Shelby Street sidewalk reconstruction

I forwarded the email I received to my normal contact at the DPW and I was told that it was being discussed with engineers. Lets hope that this once is remedied quickly.

Comments 25

  • How do people in the field building these sidewalks not have a minimum understanding of ADA requirements? I bet that’s not even close to providing clearance for a wheelchair.

  • I received an email from DPW this morning saying that engineering had reviewed and deemed this unacceptable. Im not positive what the final fix will be but it could be the pole being moved (expensive) or the sidewalk simply being contoured around it (cheaper).

  • Wow. This would fall into my “ask forgiveness, not permission” category, as the ROW appears from city GIS to be part of the I-65 corridor at this point. Who cares if you go a couple feet closer to INDOT’s fence when it’s all on INDOT land anyway?

  • On Saturday afternoon, I was visited by Jeff Miller who is the former Fletcher Place neighborhood assn chair and active member of SEND. He is currently running for city council. During our talk he asked what my biggest concern was and without hesitation, I said poles in the middle of sidewalks. He was extremely sympathetic and said he has already complained to the city about this (specifically on East St and Washington St). We also discussed the Shelby bike track and about the bollards. My guess is he was fully unaware of this pole in the middle of the sidewalk. I’ll be forwarding this article on to him, for sure.

  • Definition of Fail…

    City ordinances???

  • Hmm. How about a community project to document ALL the poles in sidewalks? Some of it could be done from aerial photos; I looked at this one on the City’s GIS website and the pole was in the old sidewalk (2010 photo) too.
    If DPW had an inventory, perhaps they could or would begin fixing the problems as infrastructure is rebuilt. So often the issue is…”we’re fixing sidewalks and there’s no money in the budget to move utilities”. So we get travesties like this and the other ones Curt documented (such as E 52nd…new bike lane, new curbs and new sidewalks with poles in ’em). But if all these instances were catalogued and prioritized for change, then a job like this would never get contracted without a review of the pole in the walk.

    • This is actually a FANTASTIC idea. I know of one local firm who was going to be undertaking an effort to “scan” the city and one of the outputs would be sign posts, etc. It seems logical to me that utility poles in sidewalks could be an item that would show up as well.
      It would be a great idea moving forward if DPW including utility relocation of the par suggested in this post when it openned bidding. I realize money is always going to be tight, even in good economic times. But we have GOT to move on with correcting decades of stupid planning & engineering that has allowed this stuff to happen in the first place. Even if it takes some extra dollars.

      • I was thinking of inspiring a hands-on project for some students (maybe MUD students at Ball State’s CAP:IC?) or for a GIS or surveying course at Ivy Tech or SPEA.
        And I failed to give conceptual credit to Jeff Miller of Fletcher Place, who organized the SEND infrastructure survey. I heard him speak at Neighbor Power, and was inspired. We’re trying to organize that kind of effort to collect consolidated infrastructure data for the Mid-North Quality of Life plan.

  • Curiously, the sidewalk actually ‘contours’ to align with the pole. The grass strip along the street is omitted.

    For IPL to move a pole it is normally costly because of all the service lines it supports, but this one has no wires to move except the single feeder for the street light. Drill, drop a pole, attach the light, done. Normally they could pull the pole out of the ground and drop it back into a new hole but that’s probably impossible when it’s set in concrete like this one is.

    The practice of pouring a contour around obstructions is not particularly kind to those that have to navigate around them in a chair, kart or whatever. Generally they seem to be laid down in such a way that it requires tight turns. It has to be really tricky for a blind person using a cane, too.

    • Agreed, you can see (barely, in the shadow of the bridge) that the sidewalk jumps back away from the curb when it passes under the bridge. So the solution in this case was simply to put back the “tree lawn” in that half-block where it was omitted.

  • I remember having a discussion with some SEND members a couple of years ago about fixing up neighborhood sidewalks. I kept asking what’s the purpose of fixing sidewalks in Indy when it’s merely for poles, not people. Hmmm, unfortunately, this is just one of many examples of INDY’s reliance on anything but pedestrians and outdated, low dense development. It’s costly to move most poles. It’s even more costly to fix things the wrong way multiple times (the INDY way, IMPO). The city needs to focus on a few areas a year to really improve things the right way…rather than the quick fix/ ‘scattered patching approach.’ Besides the Cultural Trail, Indianapolis needs a progressive light rail system to help bulldoze existing, outdated street infrastructure. This is another reason I’m not convinced that all of this money being spent to ‘REBUILD INDY’ is worth it. Because 10 years from now, we’ll all understand how these so called enhancements set Indy back yet another 20 years.

  • I tweeted the article this morning along with “Rebuild Indy should include Rethink DPW”
    DPW tweeted right back that they were “fixing this soon.”

    It sucks that this happened in the first place, and probably will again, but it’s great that they’re actually responding to public disapproval and not just ignoring it.

    I’m encouraged by some of the progress that’s been made lately, but it’s high time for a critical assessment of our DPW and then a reboot. They need new leadership and new standards without a doubt.

  • This is off-topic, but what’s up with the intrusive bump out at 16th and Delaware? Are they going to eliminate turning right from heading west on 16th onto Delaware? That curve is obscene.

    • No, they aren’t going to eliminate any turns. And since the curve slows down car traffic and encourages safe pedestrian crossing of a previously forbidding intersection, this blog is supportive of it.

      • Amen. I’m a brave and fast walker, but I always considered the trip from the NW to SE corner of 16th and Delaware (walking toward Harrison Center from Herron HS) to be really bad. I’m glad to see this change.

      • I’m supportive of that as well, but the angle of that turns seems excessive and is going to cause potential accidents as cars follow too closely behind someone having to come to a near stop to make that turn.

  • those engineers belong in jail.

  • Amazing that this can even happen! What if they left big poles in the middle of the ROAD? Can you imagine? What a double standard!

  • Check this out:


    Been like this since sometime in the ’80s. There’s even cables dangling, which are invisible at night. It is a miracle no one’s been injured or killed. That’s what it will take to have this fixed, apparently, as I’ve exhausted my efforts.

    • The maintenance of some of Indy’s greenways leaves much to be desired, too. We went on a ride on the Fall Creek Trail a couple of weeks ago, and the a stretch between the bridge near the Binford/Fall Creek intersection (near Keystone Towers) and 39th Street is desperately in need of some tree-trimming. In several spots, it’s so overgrown that the trail is reduced to one lane. That’s the only thing that gives me pause about the expansion of Indy’s bicycle facilities: other than the Monon, we don’t do a very good job maintaining what we have (don’t get me started on the Pleasant Run Trail).

      • Really? Unless the PRT has gotten massively overgrown recently from the spring deluge, the stretch between English Ave. and Ritter Ave. has always seemed pretty good to me. (Other than a couple of intersections where wooden bollards have been smashed.)

        • In fairness, I haven’t been on the PRT south of Washington since April. The part of the “trail” that has bothered me in the past is the sidewalk on the west side of the Emerson Avenue bridge over Pleasant Run. That nominally is part of the trail, but there usually are branches in the way. When I’m on the PRT, I use that little isolated section of the Parkway rather than the marked trail at that point, so it has been a while. In the past, I know that the segment southeast of Keystone has had some overgrowth issues, but I haven’t been on that part since April, so perhaps I should take a ride before I mouth off. But I stand by what I said about Fall Creek. It was shockingly bad 10 days ago.

          • Now that you mention it, I usually cut across Washington at the Parkway and use that same “cut-off” block to avoid the Emerson bridge. 🙂

      • Then again…I walk, so I’m lower than a bike rider.

  • I rode the Towpath over the weekend. I usually stay away from it because of its condition. I was alarmed to see it is now in the worst shape ever.

    The number and size of potholes is extremely dangerous. Many are football-sized, some larger. A person could twist an ankle or be thrown from their bike. What’s worse, instead of the finely-ground limestone and dust, they have dumped coarse (sort of like driveway-grade) stone into a few of the larger holes. These are somewhat mounded and the large bits are spilling out all across the trail surface. Again, this could cause a runner to lose footing, or a cyclist to take a spill or get a flat tire.

    I have informed Greenways multiple times over the past couple of years, but it just gets worse.

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