Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Soliday bill for alternative road funding study heads to Senate

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A bill creating a two-year study to consider road funding alternatives passed out of the House with overwhelming bipartisan support and will now go to the Senate for further consideration and debate.

State Representative Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, coordinating with the Indiana Department of Transportation, authored House Bill (HB) 1104 to address the state’s infrastructure needs by studying various mechanisms to sustain and improve Indiana’s transportation system.

“We are trying to take a measured, comprehensive approach to considering what options or mechanisms are available to address the state’s infrastructure needs,” said Soliday. “Our current funding mechanisms for transportation improvements are declining each year due to more fuel efficient vehicles, higher fuel costs and alternative fuels, so we need to explore other, more effective options to keep our roads and bridges maintained to support businesses and Hoosier families.”

If enacted, HB 1104 wou* ld require INDOT to contract with a third party to study all transportation funding mechanisms, lasting a minimum of two years. Some of those alternatives include the following: flat per vehicle fee, tolls, state gross retail tax on motor fuel, special fuel tax, motor carrier fuel tax and the gasoline tax.

The bill allows the third party to consider any additional mechanism that INDOT deems appropriate as a road funding alternative. All the alternatives, along with external factors that affect them, like the weight of a vehicle or miles driven, would be listed in a spreadsheet in order to make the document more user-friendly.

“We are doing this study now while we still have time, and we should not rule out or have preconceived notions about any funding mechanism before we have a chance to consider them all,” said Soliday.

Additionally, the study includes an evaluation of the potential effects those various funding mechanisms might have on alternative fuels or new technological advances in the automotive industry.

Under HB 1104, the third party would inventory all infrastructure maintained by the potential revenue generated by the funding alternatives and would be tasked to identify and discuss any concerns related to privacy, accessibility or revenue collection.

Another provision outlined in HB 1104 requires the third party to establish a rating system to evaluate the maintenance of Indiana’s transportation system. The rating would later be used to determine the necessary maintenance costs to improve the state’s infrastructure.

Every year, the third party will compile their findings and submit them to the Joint Study Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Assessment and Solutions, the Legislative Council and the governor, no later than July 1 of each year the study exists.

Once the study is complete, HB 1104 recommends that INDOT use one or more of the funding mechanisms to conduct a voluntary pilot program, based on the appropriateness of the findings.

“Once the findings are produced, members of the Legislature will be able to make better informed decisions about what funding mechanisms will sustain Indiana’s transportation infrastructure the best in the long term. I want the quality and condition of our state’s infrastructure to be the model for the rest of the country,” said Soliday.

 

 

Posted 1/28/2014