Indiana looking at road funding alternatives

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, March 10, 2014

A bill on its way to Gov. Mike Pence’s desk would help the state of Indiana address road funding needs.

The Senate voted unanimously to advance a bill that would require the state Department of Transportation to contract with a third party to come up with alternative funding to pay for maintaining state highways. House lawmakers agreed to changes on the bill, which cleared the way for HB1104 to move to the governor’s desk.

“We are trying to take a measured, comprehensive approach to considering what options or mechanisms are available to address the state’s infrastructure needs,” Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said in a recent news release.

Advancement of HB1104 comes as state lawmakers have been unable to come up with funding sources as Indiana’s “Major Moves” initiative comes to an end. State officials have said that something must be done because money remaining from the $3.85 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road in 2006 is mostly spent or due to be spent for specific projects.

As a result, Indiana must again rely on the state’s 18-cent-per-gallon fuel tax to get needed transportation work done.

If signed into law, the bill would require INDOT and the third party to spend up to two years studying alternative funding options.

Soliday said some of the alternatives include a flat per-vehicle fee, tolls, state gross retail tax on motor fuels, diesel tax and gas tax.

He cited more fuel efficient vehicles, higher fuel costs and alternative fuels as reasons the state needs “to explore other, more effective options to keep our roads maintained.”

At the conclusion of the study, the agency would then consider implementing a voluntary pilot program on one or more of the funding options.

“We should not rule out or have preconceived notions about any funding mechanism before we have a chance to consider all of them,” Soliday stated.

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