Funding for local roads become contentious statehouse issue

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (October 15, 2015) – The Governor’s plan to spend $1 billion to upgrade Indiana roads will not help cities and towns take care of their streets. Months before the session even begins, lawmakers Thursday were battling it out over who is going to pay to keep up the roads Hoosiers drive on.

The big question now is whether the state should be paying to upgrade city streets, and the answer for some lawmakers isn’t as easy as you’d think.

Studies show Indiana’s road and bridge infrastructure rank among the worst in the U.S.

Tom Murtaugh, the Tippecanoe County Commissioner testified to an interim state transportation study committee Thursday that localities across Indiana are losing cash and are unable to pay for road upgrades themselves.

“We’re to the point where we can’t look forward to that next project and build infrastructure for that next project because we have to focus every dollar on maintaining the current infrastructure,” said Murtaugh.

“This plan only reinforces the perception that the state is not there to help local units of government maintain the infrastructure they have,” said State Representative Dan Forestal (D – Indianapolis).

Forestal, a member of the committee says the Governor’s plan will leave localities in debt, forcing them to pay for road upgrades themselves.

“It does nothing to help local units of government fund their roads. Hoosiers travel on city and county roads every day and none of the governor’s plan goes to help maintain that infrastructure and again, that makes up 70% of the roads in Indiana,” he said.

“In too many cases I think they’re asking us to raise that money for them because they don’t want to make tough votes themselves, but the reality is, they have to as well,” said State Senator, and Transportation Committee Chair, Carlin Yoder (R – Middlebury).

While republicans agree, the state will find a way to help localities pay for road upgrades, the statehouse they say can’t be the only source of funding.

“In too many cases I think they’re asking us to raise that money for them because they don’t want to make tough votes themselves, but the reality is, they have to as well,” said Yoder.

No telling what the help if any from the state will be for localities during the upcoming session.

Local officials testified Thursday the gap in funding for local roadways, statewide is around $500 million a year.

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