Roads and Transportation

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A debate over a specific way to generate transportation funding dollars resurfaced during the third meeting of the state roads task on Thursday.

The discussion focused on funding sources. And an idea promoted by a Purdue expert testifying before the panel provoked debate among its members: specifically, the value of vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, fees.

In a VMT system, people pay for how many miles they drive.

Republican Sen. Brandt Hershman, (R-Buck Creek), says he has issues with using that type of fee to pay for roads.

House GOP Roads Funding Plan Fueled By Tax Hikes

Dec 17, 2015
Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

House Speaker Brian Bosma Wednesday began to reveal the details of his caucus’ comprehensive road funding plan, a proposal that includes tax increases.

Robert Carr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/myconstructionphotos/1525875787/

Communities across Indiana would receive more than $400 million for road and bridge projects under a plan unveiled Thursday by State Senator Brandt Hershman. 

The Republican from Buck Creek wants to give back to municipalities and counties some of the local income tax dollars the state holds in reserve.

Typically, local governments only get those dollars if the reserve balance exceeds 50 percent of annual collections.

The balance is currently around 25 percent. But Hershman says he wants to give locals that money, about $418 million, for roads.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Republican legislative leaders won't rule out tax increases as a potential solutions for Indiana's road funding issues. 

House Speaker Brian Bosma says the GOP caucus' plan relies on three principles: that it's responsible, comprehensive and sustainable. And he says the House Republican bill would be, in his words, "loaded with options."

"People worried about voting for a potential gas increases in the future?" he asks. "Maybe it needs to happen. Registration fee on electric vehicles? Perhaps they need to pay toward our roads as well."

Barbara Brosher / WFIU

Governor Mike Pence unveiled a road funding proposal Tuesday that would spend one billion dollars over the next four years to preserve existing roads and bridges. Most of the money requires legislative approval and not a single new dollar would be available before July of 2016.

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A key legislator says a review of whether INDOT contractors have been using substandard asphalt could complicate efforts to increase highway funding.

INDOT instructs contractors to use recycled asphalt, and has been testing samples to see if the recipe is causing roads to deteriorate sooner than they should. Depending on how many roads fail those tests, it could cost the state as much as $71 million in extra repaving costs.

House Roads and Transportation Chairman Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) says he's "not super-concerned" about the issue: