Indiana Fourth District U.S. Representative Todd Rokita says the federal highway bill recently passed by Congress provides reliability in funding and eliminates stress for states and contractors as they plan to upgrade and maintain roads.
The bill provides five years of funding with more than $5 billion for Indiana.
Rokita, a member of the House Transportation Committee, says the federal highway bill is paid for without gimmicks, relying mostly on the gasoline tax, with some alternative revenue streams that include funds from the Federal Reserve.
Still, Rokita expressed disappointment the gas tax went unchanged. It hasn’t been increased since 1993.
He says Congress is shirking its responsibility by not at least tying it to inflation, a point Rokita acknowledges new U.S. House Speaker and former Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan doesn’t agree with.
The Indiana congressman says he also wants to explore revenue streams that rely on user fees.
“The ideas that would be in play in a user fee concept include, and there might be others, vehicle miles taxed, public-private partnerships, more tolling," Rokita says.
Both of Indiana's Senators, Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Dan Coats, support the highway bill, praising the stability it will provide and hailing it as the “best solution” to address the needed repairs to Indiana’s infrastructure.
Rokita says the federal highway bill also includes safety measures developed in Indiana, such as putting a physical barrier between trucks and cars on some of the state's busiest sections of interstate highways.