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Officials plan to ask lawmakers to support more road funding

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Some local leaders plan to head to the statehouse Tuesday to ask lawmakers to support more funding for roads.

Members of the Association of Indiana Counties, among others from across the state, plan to speak with legislators about what they call a road funding gap.

David Bottorff Executive Director of Indiana Counties, says lawmakers have been supportive in recent sessions, and they’re hoping to maintain support and stress the need for increased funding as well.

That money, he says, goes to filling potholes, maintaining roads, aging bridges and relieving congestion.

“The general assembly, two years ago, was very generous. They started directing some of the state sales tax for local roads. Because of that, counties received an extra $60, or $65 million. We want to make sure that stays in the budget this year, and then see what we can do to possibly expand our revenue,” said Bottorff.

On the state level, the I-65 Major Moves project is just one example of the new money lawmakers have dedicated to state roads recently.

Bottorff says they’d like even more money dedicated to county and community roads as well.

“We worked with Purdue University, and they estimated there’s at least an immediate $400 million need for maintenance of current roads at the local level. We certainly understand the general assembly doesn’t have that kind of revenue available right now, but again, we want to keep it on their radar, make sure we maintain what we have, ask for some more money this year, then look for a longer term solution,” said Bottorff.

Bottorff added they need to be looking at the long term solution of roads funding.

“The general assembly definitely recognizes the changing need of the economy and roads, because as we get more fuel efficient cars, fewer and fewer people are buying as much gas, which generates gas tax revenue, for us to build roads, so we need to look at a long term solution for how we’re going to fund roads in the future,” he added.

Some of their suggestions for immediate and then long-term solutions include: imposing a new statewide vehicle registration fee, dedicating more sales tax collected on fuel purchases to highways, or even implementing tolls for specific projects or to fund overall road maintenance and improvements.