How Much Are You Willing to Pay For Good Roads?

Posted: Updated:

The debate is underway at the Indiana General Assembly about 2017 priorities. It’s a budget year, so there is a long line of worthy endeavors hoping they find a spot in the biennial budget. Legislators are left with the task of prioritizing the State spending and ensuring the long term financial stability of the State.

Perhaps no issue will get more attention than infrastructure funding. Experts estimate our roads and bridges need close to $1 billion more annually for upkeep. That really would allow us only to take care of what we have, additional dollars would be needed for new projects.

The simple truth is there is no way to accomplish this goal without it costing you and me a little more money. A variety of proposals are out there that seek to collect the needed funding from a variety of different sources. As with any proposal to raise taxes or fees, it likely will face some opposition. At the same time, it is expected many will step forward now in support. I’m one that believes the time is now to fund the State’s 20 year transportation plan.

The tolling of existing interstates will be one option that is studied. I’m a believer in this “user” fee, when I want the speed and convenience of the toll road, I utilize it. I think others around the State would follow suit. The Indiana Toll Road helped us pay for 20 Years of transportation needs. New toll roads will help address the next 20.

Certainly the easiest section of interstate to toll would be that twenty four mile section of I-80 between the west end of the Indiana Toll Road at Portage and the Illinois state line. Some might argue that users through this corridor are already used to tolling through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Critics might argue that those in the north part of the state have already paid a disproportionate share with the toll road being in existence since the 1950’s and it’s time to look toward other parts of the state.

Tolling an existing interstate roadway won’t be popular or easy to do, but could very quickly raise the kind of funds necessary to fund state transportation needs. It remains to be seen whether elected officials will have the appetite to initiate such difficult change.

Without a tolling plan, additional pressure is placed on other funding options like an increase in the gas tax. Such a change was easier to consider a month ago when gas prices were closer to $2.00 per gallon then they might be now with gas prices averaging about $2.30 per gallon. The last time the gas tax was adjusted was 14 years ago. A change this time around should include indexing the tax to inflation. A $.10 increase would add about $4.00 to the average users monthly bill.

Additional annual fees on vehicle registrations will also be considered, including a statewide infrastructure improvement with a significant amount for electric vehicles that now don’t pay much of a gas tax but utilize the roadways.

It won’t get easier or cheaper to fix this long term need. A balanced approach is necessary and widespread support will be necessary. Contact your legislators now and share your preferences for how to best solve this need.

Jeff Rea is chief executive officer of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce.

  • Perspectives

    • Creating the Work Spaces that Draw Talent to Indianapolis

      The future economy will be driven by data, powered by robotics and heavily invested in the building blocks of nature – biotech and genetic engineering. That’s true of the economy nationwide, and it’s especially true here in Indianapolis, where dominant pharmaceutical and biotech companies are putting us at the cutting edge of the science-based economy. It all sounds larger than life. But the facilities that will house these industries will always be...

    More

Events



  • Most Popular Stories

    • The Honda Greensburg plant opened in 2008.

      Honda to Invest $4M, Add Jobs at Greensburg Plant

      The American Honda Motor Co. continues to invest in its Greensburg, Indiana plant as it has announced the factory will be producing the company’s first electrified sport utility vehicle in the U.S. The company says it will invest more than $4 million and add 34 new jobs in the plant to support production of the CR-V Hybrid.  

    • Amanda Stephenson is the founder and president of Expert RN|MD. (Inside INdiana Business Photo/Mary-Rachel Redman)

      Medical Consulting Firm Opens Downtown Indy HQ

      A medical consulting startup is celebrating the grand opening of its new downtown Indianapolis headquarters. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says Expert RN|MD, which provides medical consultation services to law firms and life science companies, is investing $1.7 million in the new location and plans to create up to 21 jobs by the end of 2023. The firm was founded in 2018 and recently renovated the 4,000-square-foot space in the downtown's Wholesale District. In an interview...

    • Allison and Stanley Chen provided the lead gift for the campaign. (Provided Photo/ISI)

      International School Launches Capital Campaign

      The International School of Indiana has publicly launched a capital campaign to establish a unified campus in Indianapolis. As part of the ONE ISI campaign, the school is looking to raise $6.5 million to build a new school building for pre-elementary and elementary students at the site of its middle and high schools. The public launch follows a 10-month silent phase of the campaign, during which ISI raised $5 million from more than two dozen donors. Currently, ISI's operations are...

    • Rendering courtesy of the city of Fort Wayne

      Mayor Henry Announces Developer for $70M Project

      Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry has named Indianapolis-based Barrett & Stokely the developer for a $70 million project on the city's riverfront near Promenade Park. The company was selected from a group of five firms that submitted requests for proposals to spearhead the project.

    • Money magazine judges Fishers as 3rd best place to live in the U.S.

      Fishers Makes Top 10 List of 'Best Places to Live'

      Three communities in Indiana made the top 100 list of best places to live in the country, but only one made the top 10. Fishers was judged by Money magazine as the third best place to live in the United States, behind Clarksville, Tennessee and Round Rock, Texas.