Fund Our Roads Indiana: Hoosiers Take Action on Infrastructure Funding (Part II)

With a $1 billion gap in funding levels, updating Indiana’s deteriorating highways, roads, and bridges is a daunting task. Gas tax revenues, which are dedicated to maintaining and building our infrastructure, continue to decline due to better vehicle gas mileage and loss of purchasing power from inflation. To compound this problem, the state gas tax has not been raised since 2003, and the federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1993.

In response to this issue, The American Council of Engineering Consultants (ACEC) Indiana launched a grassroots transportation funding campaign in 2015 called Fund Our Roads Indiana. The goal of the program is to introduce a long-term, sustainable transportation funding plan for the state of Indiana. GAI sat down with ACEC Indiana Infrastructure Funding Committee member Mark Young, PE to get an update on this public outreach initiative, as previously discussed in 2015 by ACEC Indiana President Scott Hornsby, PE.

What are you doing to educate the public about the gap in Indiana’s infrastructure funding?

Mark: Our first order of business with the Fund Our Roads Indiana campaign was to educate the public about the current gap, how little they pay ($0.63/person/day) for using roads and bridges, and how much need there is for increased transportation funding. We have used various outreach methods to raise awareness, including social media and billboards along many congested highways. These outlets give basic facts on the topic and also tell people where to go for additional information that will help them understand what needs to be done and why. We have made it very simple for individuals to contact their elected officials.

By taking action, the public can help alleviate current and future needs by urging their officials to find a way to fix Indiana’s roads.

Why is it important for the public to contact elected officials about this issue?

Mark: By taking action, the public can help alleviate current and future needs by urging their officials to find a way to fix Indiana’s roads. Legislators need to know that the public wants them to make long-term transportation infrastructure investment a priority—most state representatives or senators will act if they hear from their constituents.

What has been accomplished since the Fund Our Roads Indiana campaign began?

Mark: During the recent general assembly, the need for long-term, sustainable transportation funding was a major agenda item for many of our elected officials and governor; we believe this attention can be attributed to the ACEC Indiana committee’s efforts, as well as those of other industry partners who educate the public and encourage them to contact their elected officials. I wish I could say the issue was resolved, but with any situation that has festered for this long, it is not something that can be quickly settled. But we are stepping in the right direction—to attest to this, a few items achieved during the session included the following:

  • Pulled funds from the state reserves and directed them to state highways.
  • Set up a new local grant program for LPAs.
  • Directed sales tax collected on fuel purchases to roads—36% achieved (2.5 cents of the 7 cents, or $175 million/year).
  • Fixed the wheel tax decision-making process for the locals ($105 million/year).
  • Released $330 million in local option income taxes back to the locals for use on local road preservation projects.

In addition, although long-term funding was not solved, a nice short-term solution was approved that will put an additional $900 million toward state and local roads over the next four years. Unfortunately, while this is a major boost to help maintain our highways for a few years, it does not provide a long-term solution.

What happens next?

Mark: Our work is not done, and the ACEC Indiana Infrastructure Funding Committee and partners will continue our efforts moving forward. We are currently meeting to go over what we’ve accomplished, what still needs to happen, and how we can help make those things a reality. Some items that were not approved and are still on our agenda to help push through include the following:

  • Redirect the remaining 4.5 cents of the fuel sales tax to roads ($315 million/year).
  • Implement fees on alternative fueled and electric vehicles ($1 million/year).
  • Apply a new statewide registration fee ($300 million/year).
  • Index the gas tax ($15 million/year).
  • Adjust the gas tax to 2003 levels, or 4-5 cents more ($120 – $150 million/year).

Mark Young, PE is a project manager in GAI’s Midwest Transportation Market with a focus on both Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and local communities. In his 18 years of experience consulting and serving INDOT, Indiana LPAs, and other state DOTs, Mark has successfully managed and led transportation teams and high-profile projects. He is an active member of ACEC and serves on the Indiana ACEC Funding Committee. For questions or additional information, contact Mark Young, PE at 317.570.6800 or Scott Hornsby, PE at 317.570.6800.

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