Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger Safer Tomorrow Task Force meets July 21st

By Russ Phillips

Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger Safer Tomorrow Task Force” will meet Thursday, July 21, 2016 and accept public testimony from the audience. This meeting will get underway at 1:00P.M. EDT in Rm. 404 of the State House and be livestreamed. Committee Members and the Agenda will be found at the previous link.

Individual citizens are encouraged to attend this meeting and to provide testimony regarding their personal experience with Indiana’s highways/bridges.

The Committee is charged with the following responsibilities:

(A)The following: (i) Review state highway and major bridge needs. (ii) Verify road and bridge needs at the local level. (iii) Develop a long term plan for state highway and major bridge needs that addresses the ten (10) points [see 10 points below] described in HEA 1001-2016, SECTION 21(g) and: (a) will achieve the recommended pavement and bridge conditions; (b) will complete the current statewide priority projects by finishing projects that have been started; (c) includes Tier 1, 2, and 3 projects; and (d) using the model developed by the Indiana Department of Transportation, includes sustainable funding mechanisms for the various components of the plan. (iv) Develop a long term plan for local road and bridge needs. (Source: HEA 1001-2016, SECTION 21.)

The long term plan for state highway and major bridge needs must include the following ten (10) points: (highlighting added by this website)

(1) Estimates of the costs of major projects, including a study of which projects can be done within current revenue streams and which projects may require additional funding.
(2) The identification of projects for which a public-private partnership, a public-private agreement, or tolling might be viable, with planning to verify and confirm these public-private partnership, public-private agreement, or tolling opportunities.
(3) The identification of resources for annual maintenance need, concentrating first on available user fees and attempting to secure stable and predictable funding sources. This must include a determination of whether additional resources must be pursued and what form of resource is most appropriate for each project.
(4) A review of the state’s debt situation and the development of a plan to maintain a strong financial position for the state. This must include consideration of whether a fee or tax could be associated with the life of a bond for an individual project, with the fee or tax then expiring by law upon payment of the bond.
(5) The evaluation of the state system of taxes, fees, and registration fees, and the equity of payments by different groups of users of transportation assets. This must include an evaluation of the overall reliability over time of the receipt of revenue from these sources.(6) A review of the fuel tax system, including such concepts as indexing tax rates, changing tax rates, and the appropriate collection points for these taxes.
(7) The ensuring that the projects listed in the plan are priority items that should be carried out, and confirming that these projects bring value to citizens either through access and safety needs or for economic development of Indiana as a whole.
(8) A review of the impact and advisability of dedicating some part of state sales tax to roads and road maintenance.
(9) An analysis of how collective purchasing agreements could be developed to share and reduce costs across the system of state and local governments.
(10) A presentation of the plan and recommendations to the budget committee before January 1, 2017.

Indiana Roads and Potholes…here’s the phone number to call

By Russ Phillips On May 6th I called my INDOT District Office regarding a stretch of road full of potholes. Previously I talked with a State Representative about the matter. Today I drove the same road and some had been filled although many more remain unfilled.   Below are listed the six INDOT District Offices and the counties each represents. To report a pothole 24/7 on an interstate highway, U.S. highway, or state road call the number listed. *Crawfordsville District (Toll Free: 1-888-924-6368 – 24 hour dispatch) (Benton, Boone, Clay, Clinton, Fountain, Hendricks, Montgomery, … Continue reading

Roads and potholes…No response from INDOT

By Russ Phillips

This is a followup to yesterday’s post about the condition of the roads, highways and bridges. It included a response to an inquiry I made to the INDOT. Following this I made a second inquiry as noted below. Unfortunately I never received a response. Is this acceptable from the Indiana state government?

11/15/15

Dear Ms. Morgan,

Thank you for the timely response to my message dated October 29, 2015 re: striping of highways. Furthermore, I appreciate your clear response to my question by stating, “INDOT hasn’t intentionally reduced highway striping.”

You also stated, “Unfortunately some district painting crews have been plagued with equipment issues and breakdowns throughout the season.” This prompts further questions due to “throughout the season.”

Is equipment being used beyond its useful life, thus, is no longer reliable? If so, the downtime becomes a problematic result. What has INDOT’s budget been in recent years and during this time has there been an order to hold back, i.e. not spend, a certain percent of the appropriation?

Sincerely,

Russell Phillips
1306 W. State Rd. 114
Rochester, IN 46975

Roads, Highways & Bridges…Know of a bad one?

By Russ Phillips

What is the condition of roads, highways and bridges you travel? We “hear” a lot about their condition but what is being “done”? Yes, we need a long-term solution but what about in the short-term? Potholes? Striping?

pothole

The purpose of this post is to encourage you to comment, particularly in Indiana, about the “bad” places you travel.

Late October last fall I drove early in the morning before any daylight IN Hwy. 25 between Rochester and Mentone, a stretch I seldom drive. The yellow and white lines were very faint if at all making it difficult to stay in my lane, particularly when there was oncoming traffic. I sent a letter to the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and received this response. Several days ago I traveled a short distance on this stretch. Lines still had not been re-striped. (Note: On 11/15/15 an email was sent to INDOT with another concern. It will be published tomorrow.)

Last Thursday I drove IN Hwy 31 between Argos and Plymouth. Many potholes remain unfilled, particularly on the right side of the outside lane.

I’ve also noticed the edge of many roads are crumbling.

How are Indiana roads? County? Town? City? State? Interstate? I encourage you to comment, particularly in Indiana, about the “bad” places you travel.

Indiana must find a way to deal with big issues

State must find a way to deal with big issues The Indianapolis Star By John Ketzenberger 5/10/15 It already seems like an eon has passed since the Indiana General Assembly called it quits on a tumultuous session just 10 days ago. Is it too soon to start looking ahead? The simple answer is no, there are a lot of important issues that should get more time and attention from lawmakers, including transportation funding, rationalizing the tax structure between local and state government, and ensuring the state’s tax revenue streams are … Continue reading

Time is running out on federal highway funding

The Washington Post
By Ashley Halsey III
5/7/15

With Congress on the brink of another failure at the end of this month, the usual bickering over who is to blame for not passing a promised long-term transportation bill was in full bloom Thursday on Capitol Hill.

“Our friends on the other side of the aisle haven’t issued a peep about what to do about it,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, flanked by four Democratic colleagues at an afternoon news conference. “Please tell us how you intend to avoid a highway shutdown.”

The only plausible answer appears to be extending the current extension, which expires May 31.

Another extension would be the 33rd time in six years that Congress has faltered when faced with the need for a new transportation authorization measure…
Continue reading

 

Gov. Pence wants a $56 million bicentennial “party” and the roadways…

By Russ Phillips

In my opinion the roads – cities and towns, counties, Indiana highways and Indiana interstates – are not receiving adequate road maintenance including sealing and resurfacing as needed as well as prompt filling of potholes and this has been true for a number of years. Some will cite Indiana’s most recent winter as causing the problem and it certainly has made things worse, however, years of neglect has led us to the current roadway conditions. Indiana’s state government as well as the federal government have shirked their responsibility in establishing a long-range program for adequately maintaining our roads. Instead only enough is being done to get by, if even that.

It’s a matter of priorities. Governor Pence’s proposed state budget, in acknowledgement of Indiana’s bicentennial birthday, calls for the construction of a new state archives building ($25 million), the construction of a Bicentennial Inn at Potato Creek State Park ($25 million), the creation of an education center at the Indiana State Library ($2.5 million), the development of a commemorative Bicentennial Plaza ($2 million), and the funding of the Bicentennial torch relay initiative ($1.6 million). Where will the funding come from?

According to Pence the state’s cell tower infrastructure is currently being underutilized and “is not realizing its full commercial potential.” The state — which owns 150 cell towers — is looking to lease the excess capacity to private operators, producing at least $50 million, while still maintaining its critical public safety and emergency communication. State police communication is at the core of those needs. This would pay most of the cost of these projects. There is also a possibility of the new inn being privately financed as a business venture and this I would support.

It is my opinion that the above $56.1 million should be applied to road maintenance. What do you think? Other ideas?

Some of this article is from one or more of:
WNDU.com
WBAA, Public Radio from Purdue
South Bend Tribune
The Statehouse File

President’s 2016 Budget in Pictures

National Priorities Project
By Jasmine Tucker
2/9/15

President Obama recently released his fiscal year 2016 budget proposal. Budgets are about our nation’s priorities: What are we going to spend money on? How are we going to raise the money we want to spend?

Though the budget ultimately enacted by Congress may look very different from the budget request released by the president, the president’s budget is important. It’s the president’s vision for the country in fiscal year 2016 and beyond, and it reflects input and spending requests from every federal agency.

These pictures tell the story of the priorities found in the president’s budget.


President’s Proposed 2016 Budget: Total Spending

This chart shows how President Obama proposed allocating $4.1 trillion* in total federal spending in fiscal year 2016, an increase of more than 5 percent over the total 2015 spending level. This includes every type of federal spending, from funding for discretionary programs like infrastructure improvements and job training to mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicare, as well as interest payments on the federal debt. Social Security and labor, Medicare and health programs, and military spending will make up 76 percent of the total budget, leaving just 24 percent, or $957 billion of the $4.1 trillion total, to spend on all other programs.

* Spending on Government (administration) is less than zero and omitted in the total spending pie chart. Lower than zero spending can occur when segments of government have surpluses from previous years that they return to the federal government.

Continue reading →

It’s really simple: pay more taxes and/or change priorities

We have an $18+ trillion debt. To chip away at it all that needs to be done is pay more taxes and/or change the priorities. Of course, there are many different government programs that contribute to this debt. As this debt continues to grow, ironically, our country’s deteriorating infrastructure continues to be ignored.

The country’s infrastructure – roads, bridges , seaports – are in need of attention. However, there seems to be little desire to do anything other than “a patch here and a patch there.”

It boils down to how much are we willing to spend (i.e. taxing the people) and what are the priorities? (This isn’t limited to infrastructure!)

Federal gas tax since 1993 has been 18.4 cents/gallon. (more)

Some advocate increasing this tax. Others favor reducing current expenditures. Part of this 18.4 cents is used for the Transportation Alternatives Program that includes the recreational trails program and the safe routes to school program. (more)

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail used $36 million of this 18.4 cents for its creation. (more)

The Transportation Alternatives Program was apportioned for the 2014 fiscal year almost $820 million and this included more than $81.5 million for the Recreational Trails Program. (more, including individual state apportionments)

A state-by-state listing of the 2012 Discretionary Grants with a description and funding amount are listed here. As a suggestion you might want to search “trail” in this information.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget in its publication “Trust or Bust: Fixing the Highway Trust Fund” lists “Fig. 4: Options for Savings Within the Highway Trust Fund” and “Fig. 5: Options for Savings to Offset General Revenue Transfers.” One of the options for savings is to eliminate the Transportation Alternatives Program that includes the Recreational Trails Program. (more)

Paying more taxes or revising priorities becomes complicated when 535 Congressional members and the President must reach a consensus. Help them out by contacting your members. Regardless, we either pay more taxes and/or change the priorities.

Potholes widen as (Indiana) struggles to pay for roads: Needs $7 billion in next 10 years

Maureen Hayden, News and Tribune CNHI Statehouse Bureau Chief 12/8/14 INDIANAPOLIS — Jim Meece, a commissioner in rural Parke County, was happy when the Legislature funneled about $100 million extra a year into road funds last year. The money didn’t go far. His county’s allotment — about $500,000 — mostly bought thousands of gallons of thick oil and crushed stone to fill potholes. “There’s a lack of understanding of what’s happening out here in the boonies,” said Meece. “We have roads with more patches than blacktop. We have patches on … Continue reading