U.S. Senate approves transportation bill without Hoosier support
Indiana’s two U.S. Senators voted against the transportation bill moving through Congress.
Senator Dan Coats says he could not support it, because the federal funding Indiana receives is not equal to what it sends to Washington. Senator Dick Lugar says he opposed the measure because the funding mechanisms are unsustainable and the state will lose an estimated $117-million under the highway funding formulas.
The Senate approved the two year spending plan, which now goes to the House for consideration. Republicans there are pushing for a five year plan without concessions to Democrats.
Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Mike Cline says something must be done before the end of the month, when the current continuing resolution expires.
"We understand there are challenges at the federal level of the different requirements for input from different types of states with different types of issues, and maybe some polarization of thoughts about what the most important thing to spend money on, but we're hopefully, not only for INDOT, but for private companies, our industry partners, contractors, suppliers, that a longer term bill would be there."
The Senate-approved measure would spend $109 billion over about two years and preserve or create an estimated 2.8 million jobs.
Cline says the state’s infrastructure needs are being met better than others, because of the Major Moves program. However, he says Hoosiers still depend on federal funds.
"And so, it is a part of our program. We'd love to have it be stable and to be a consistent level that we can anticipate. That would help all of us. So, cautiously optimistic that something will happen to get us out of the continuing resolution, but not so sure we'll get the long-term bill that we're all looking for."
The senate's measure would reduce the number of federal transportation programs by roughly two-thirds in an effort to eliminate duplication. It also preserves programs for biking and walking trails, but those must compete for funding with other projects.