State lawmakers push to prioritize infrastructure funding

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 4, 2015) - The General Assembly wrapped up just last week, but lawmakers are already talking about their number one priority for next session: transportation.

With the state’s infrastructure in dire need of repairs, lawmakers now are slated with figuring out how to pay. The number of repairs needed statewide continues to rise, while funding for transportation projects continues to decline.

Lawmakers are already forecasting priority number one for the 2016 legislative session.

“We set out with the goal of this session being the education session, we’re already talking that next session needs to be the infrastructure session,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma (R – Indianapolis).

Bosma admitted in a news conference Thursday that $200 million less in infrastructure spending this session was not ideal.

“If I had one disappointment about the session, one lowered expectation, it was what we were able to do for infrastructure,” he said.

Indiana’s roads are in no shape to wait for funding. In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers released a road report card for Indiana, giving the state a D+ for its road conditions. The report said 16% of state roads are in “poor condition,” 22% of bridges are “deficient” or “obsolete,” and rough roads cost each Indiana driver, on average, $391 per year in repairs.

“Many of those roads and bridges are coming of age so we need to identify a way to maintain and preserve those as much as possible,” said INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield.

As INDOT officials know all too well, funding sources are coming to a screeching halt. With fluctuating gas prices, the gasoline tax does not produce the revenue it once did, and as a major source of infrastructure funding, INDOT and other state transit agencies are having to look elsewhere for cash.

“When we look at future funding we’re trying to see how that would change those percentages of roads and bridges in poor condition and set it at a level the legislature and public feels is appropriate,” said Wingfield.

While it would be ideal to have the next session be devoted to enhancing Indiana’s infrastructure, it is not a budget session. That won’t happen until 2017. Hoosiers may have to wait till then before any major fixes.

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