Thursday, May 12, 2011

the city is melting

i had a bit of a surprise during my evening commute last night. as i headed east on W 79th st, i discovered that the road was covered with some sort of black substance. i couldn't tell what it was, but it was obviously very sticky because as i drove over it, my tires made a ripping sound so loud that it drowned out the engine noise of my 10-year-old car. this continued for a good half mile until 79th ended and i turned onto spring mill.

but when i saw this indy star story, i knew the mystery was solved:

Melting sealant snarls traffic on Westside roadway

Melting sealant on the roadway is causing rush hour traffic issues on a mile-long stretch along a Westside road.

Sealant that was used to fix cracks in the roadway before winter was heating up and turning into to a sticky form that was getting all over motorists cars, said Mike Pruitt, Wayne Township Fire Department spokesman.

there was just one catch: the article said the melting sealant was on high school road, which is miles away from 79th st. clearly this was happening in more than one place. i shot reporter gretchen becker a quick email about my experience, and she wrote back to let me know she'd pass it on to DPW.

apparently i wasn't the only one, because here's the latest version of the story:

Indianapolis officials are investigating why recently repaved potholes left a gooey substance on vehicles throughout the city.

The Department of Public Works said in a release that crack sealant was bleeding on various streets. Crews are placing sand over areas of concern today, an effort that began late Wednesday after the city learned about the problem.

Early reports indicate that rainy weather followed by a rapid rise in temperatures could have contributed to the bleeding sealant.

Motorists with damaged vehicles should call (317) 327-4039 for information about filing a claim.

it remains to be seen how extensive a problem this is. we don't know how many crews used this apparently-defective sealant, nor for how long, nor how prone to melting it really is. this could be a freak happening that is out of the news within a day or so.

at least, mayor ballard had better hope so. word is that road construction is going to be a pillar of his reelection campaign, so the last thing he wants is for the public to get the impression that his road crews have been doing shoddy work.

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