News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 23, 2013

Lawmakers looking for ways to patch road repair funds

INDIANAPOLIS — Freshman lawmaker Alan Morrison knew long before he came to the Indiana Statehouse that Indiana’s roads were in a bad state.

Traveling through his mostly rural, six-county district in central western Indiana to campaign, the Terre Haute Republican was often glad he was in a four-wheel drive vehicle that could handle rugged terrain.

“It shocked me how badly our infrastructure had crumbled,” said Morrison, elected in November to the Indiana House. “It’s not crumbling. It has crumbled.”

Between 2000 to 2010, the major sources of road repair money collected by the State of Indiana and doled out to local governments dropped by about $100 million. Morrison could see the evidence of that, in roads that had turned to gravel and in gravel roads that had become nearly impassable in spots.

“There are roads where I was glad I had my four-wheel drive because I wouldn’t have gotten to some people’s houses without it,” he said. “What was going through my mind at that point was, ‘What if an ambulance had to get up this road in bad weather to get to that house? It’s not going to make it.”

Those experiences are why Morrison and a Democrat from a neighboring district, state Rep. Clyde Kersey, also of Terre Haute, have signed on as co-authors of legislation aimed at freeing up millions of more dollars for local road repair.

The bill, authored by state Rep. Jeff Thompson of Lizton, would stop the state from diverting $150 million from fuel taxes that currently fund the Indiana State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.  

It would shift much of that money into local street and road repair. It would also shift more maintenance and repair dollars — about $30 million — away from the state highways and back to local roads.

“It’s about fairness,” said Kersey. “It puts the money back where it was intended to go: to maintain our roads.”

Thompson’s bill is just one of several proposed fixes for the state’s crumbling — or as Morrison sees it, already crumbled — infrastructure.

The Association of Indiana Counties supports Thompson’s bill, but would likely call it a “patch” rather than a fix.

The association points to recent studies by Purdue University’s Local Technical Assistance Center and by the American Society of Civil Engineers that estimate it would take more than $800 million to fix about half of all county paved roads in Indiana that badly need repair. The studies also found it would take more than $3 billion to bring Indiana roads and highways up to standards.

Another idea for funding road maintenance is coming from state Sen. Luke Kenley, the influential chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.  

The Republican from Noblesville has proposed adding an additional license plate tax of $20 to $50 per car as a way to raise $60 million to $200 million annually for the Indiana Department of Transportation’s road repair funds.

Kenley describes it as a kind of “user fee” that would help counter an irreversible trend: the advance of fuel-efficient cars and trucks that are cutting into revenues raised by the state’s 18-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline.

He also supports legislation that would allow counties to raise their wheel taxes, imposed on local residents annually in about half of Indiana’s 92 counties, from the current $40 to $100 a year.

Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Mike Pence is proposing a measure that would take a portion of the state’s budget surplus that currently goes to pay off some of the state’s public pension obligations and redirect those dollars into a new transportation and infrastructure fund.

That measure, met with skepticism by legislative leaders, would mean about $347 million over the next two-year period for transportation infrastructure. How it would be split between the state and local governments would be up to lawmakers to decide.

Maureen Hayden is the Indiana Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Raw: Plane Lands on New York Highway Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Harding Love Letters Now Open to Public Raw: Amphibious Landing Practice in Hawaii LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Raw: Guinea Rap Concert Stampede Kills 33+ Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity