Outlook ominous for Indiana transportation funding

2012-11-28T17:45:00Z 2012-11-29T18:20:26Z Outlook ominous for Indiana transportation fundingDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
November 28, 2012 5:45 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Without new money for transportation, Indiana will be fighting a losing battle to keep the state's bridges and roads in satisfactory condition, INDOT Commissioner Mike Cline warned state lawmakers Wednesday.

Cline told the State Budget Committee he doesn't know where the money should come from, only that Indiana faces the double whammy of declining gas tax revenue at the same time proceeds from the 2006 lease of the Indiana Toll Road are nearly all spent.

Hoosiers currently pay a gasoline tax of 18 cents per gallon. However, high gasoline prices and fuel-efficient cars have reduced gas consumption and gas tax revenue by nearly 10 percent since 2005, according to INDOT.

Meanwhile, the transportation agency has spent — as planned — nearly all of the Toll Road lease funds on $3.3 billion in Major Moves construction projects between 2007 and 2013.

Taken together, that means for the 2014-15 budget period, which starts July 1, Indiana will have nearly $1 billion less than in 2012-13 to spend on new projects and to maintain existing roads and bridges, Cine said. That's 23 percent less.

He said the state's 5,300 bridges likely would be hardest hit if spending remains at reduced levels, with about 20 percent of bridges having a "poor" condition element by 2022, up from 14 percent. Poor pavement conditions would increase to 16 percent in 10 years from 11 percent last year, he said.

Cline said Indiana also may be unable to come up with the matching funds needed to obtain some federal transportation money.

The Budget Committee is meeting with leaders of every state agency to get an overview of their funding needs for the two-year budget the Legislature will begin crafting in January.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, is chairman of a separate committee reviewing possible solutions to Indiana's transportation funding dilemma.

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