Originally printed in the Times Sentinel, Letters to the Editor on February 8, 2017.
I know I am not alone in thinking there is opportunity for improvement in the condition of Zionsville’s roads and roads across the state. Even with the accomplishments of our Street Department, we have struggled — along with the vast majority of municipalities in the state — to repair, maintain and improve aging or deteriorating roads.
This statewide problem indicates certain flaws in the way funding is made available to Zionsville and other communities. We have been forced to maintain our roads in a piecemeal, short-term fashion. This lack of funding has caused yearly infrastructure budgets to fall short.
As the 2017 legislative session hits its stride, I am offering my support of House Bill 1002, a long-term, sustainable infrastructure funding plan that gets to the heart of the funding dilemma that communities like Zionsville face.
Primary components of the plan include adjusting the gas tax to restore the buying power it has lost to inflation since it was last indexed in 2003, dedicating gas tax revenue to the State Highway Fund and to municipal maintenance budgets, and expanding matching grant programs for municipal infrastructure projects. With House Bill 1002, the gas tax will be indexed annually to account for inflation, preventing similar funding dilemmas in years to come.
It takes about $2 million to rebuild 1 mile of two-lane road. A major road project can literally siphon dollars away from the basic infrastructure maintenance that makes our town drivable, safe and attractive to residents and visitors.
I strongly urge you to contact your representatives to express support for House Bill 1002. This bill comes in a timely manner as our roads, and the mechanisms in place for maintaining and improving them, approach a crisis point. This sustainable, data-driven plan is our best bet as we update Indiana’s infrastructure for the 21st century.
Mayor Tim Haak, Zionsville