By Carolyn Kramer, manager, Transportation Investment Advocacy Center
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) wants to invest an additional $1 billion in the state’s roads and bridges over the next four years. His plan would use a combination of funds from Indiana’s budget surplus, general fund revenues, earned interest from a trust fund, plus bonds and other financing.
“These additional funds will help INDOT make future maintenance and repairs as the interstate system comes of age, and will help ensure that our roads can support the economic and employment growth our state has seen over the last few years,” Pence said in a press release.
But critics of the plan say it doesn’t invest enough money. “Until we have a comprehensive plan for state and local governments to fund infrastructure in a sustainable way, the governor’s announcement is the equivalent of filling potholes,” Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane said in a release.
Pence unveiled his plan Oct. 13 after weeks of criticism by transportation advocates and Democrats over how the governor and Republicans have funded infrastructure. Several high-profile transportation dilemmas—including the month-long closure of a heavily traveled I-65 bridge due to structural instability—spurred a campaign to improve the state’s roads and bridges.
Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson told a state transportation committee Oct. 15 that the agency has a $250 million annual shortfall just to maintain the state’s current transportation infrastructure. The state is also considering other funding options including an increase in Indiana’s 18 cents-per-gallon gas tax, increasing tolls, and instituting fees for fuel-efficient vehicles.