Originally printed in the Northwest Indiana Times, Guest Commentary, April 18.
We’ve all heard a lot about road funding in recent months.
Whether you believe it or not, the fact that it’s being discussed is a very good thing. For much too long and for whatever reasons, our roads have been neglected, and we’ve been forced to rely on temporary repairs and patch jobs. Now the Indiana General Assembly is crafting a long-term solution that can bring Indiana’s roads into the 21st century, and that’s why I support a long-term solution that is nearing a final decision in this year’s Indiana Legislature.
Good roads are not a Democratic or Republican issue, and I fully understand that no one wants to pay more taxes or fees. Unfortunately, nearly every one of our local governments throughout Indiana lack sufficient funding to maintain the roads that we use on a daily basis.
Hoosiers deserve better.
We deserve a sound infrastructure system allowing us to improve and sustain our economic heath and positioning us to be global economic leaders.
Leaders at every level have joined efforts to say 2017 is the year in which these conditions will change for the better.
There has been a lot of work done in the Legislature on a long-term, data-driven road funding plan. House Bill 1002, as originally introduced, restores lost purchasing power and ensures fees motorists pay at the pump directly benefit our roadways.
The bill also sustains those funds regardless of inflation and guarantees non-Hoosier motorists pay their share of the tab.
The bill also offers additional support for the Community Crossings grant program, from which local communities received millions of dollars of direct aid in 2016.
The grant program directly benefits local governments by matching local funds for critical projects, such as bridge repairs, road reconstruction and other improvements.
This additional funding is crucial to maintaining the quality and safety of our local roads and streets.
Our legislative leaders deserve credit for addressing this issue head on. These are complicated and extremely sensitive issues to tackle.
It’s difficult to recall such a comprehensive review and well-conceived plan in recent memory. This is truly a good example of how the best solutions for any problem are developed.
For Hoosiers concerned about our declining infrastructure, now is the time to act. Contact your lawmakers to express support for the House Bill 1002 — in its original version — as they identify a final solution before adjourning at the end of this week.
Under the proposal, Indiana’s roadways will get a much-needed jolt.
Joe Stahura, Mayor, City of Whiting