Originally printed in the Northwest Indiana Times, Guest Commentary, April 13.

As the Crossroads of America, Indiana’s roads and bridges are a vital component of our economic health. But for too long shrinking resources have forced delays in maintenance and projects. For motorists, that has meant navigating a deteriorating system of roads and, all too often, bearing the cost for expensive vehicle repairs.

As Valparaiso mayor, I’ve seen those struggles firsthand and share in residents’ frustration.

That’s why I support a long-term solution moving forward in this year’s Indiana General Assembly.

Hoosiers deserve more than patch jobs. They deserve an infrastructure system that cements Indiana’s position as a global economic leader — where goods move easily and families travel safely.

Our present situation is critical. The state and 97 percent of local governments lack sufficient resources to maintain the roads Hoosiers use to travel to work and school.

Now leaders at every level have combined efforts to say 2017 is the year in which those circumstances change for the better.

Lawmakers are hard at work securing a long-term, data-driven road funding plan. House Bill 1002 restores lost purchasing power and ensures that fees motorists pay at the pump directly benefit our roadways.

What’s more, the bill sustains those funds regardless of inflation and guarantees non-Hoosier motorists pay their share of the tab.

The House plan will secure ample funding to preserve our existing roads, finish current projects and jump-start new ones. Estimates show local governments could see an influx of more than $300 million in new funding per year if the House version of the bill is passed.

Those dollars would work to fill potholes in a timely manner and lay miles of pavement.

The original bill also offers additional support for the Community Crossings grant program. The grant program directly benefits local governments by providing funds for critical projects, such as bridge repairs, road reconstruction and other improvements.

For Hoosiers concerned about our declining infrastructure, now is the time to act.

Contact your lawmakers to express support for House Bill 1002 as originally introduced in the House. Under the proposal, Indiana’s highways and byways will receive a long awaited and necessary boost.

John Costas, Mayor, Valparaiso

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