By Laura Byrne | February 17th, 2016PDF Download
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Indiana roads are at a crossroads when it comes to upkeep and funding. One Purdue road expert is pushing for a solution, but it will need political backing.
Purdue civil engineering professor Kumares Sinha said Indiana once had some of the best roads in the world. But now he says, the state is falling behind and needs to find a better system.
When it comes to funding Indiana roads, there are a lot of options on the table. State lawmakers say the biggest issue, finding long-term solutions.
“Not a short-term [solution] such as gas tax,” said State Sen. Ron Alting. “It’s an outdated way to collect money to keep up with our roads.”
It’s predicted that road up keep in Indiana costs $1 billion to pay for both state and local roadways. Right now, a fuel tax is paying for Indiana road funding.
However, Sinha said the gas tax will not be sufficient to pay for roads in the future.
“Because the energy efficiency has gone up, and people are not driving as much, and it doesn’t make sense,” said Sinha. “The world has changed.”
What are the options?
One option is to make energy efficient and hybrid cars pay a fee. Although owners of hybrids argue they use the same roads as everyone else, but do not pay the same amount in fuel tax.
“Hybrid vehicles, what is the fuel? Hybrid vehicles, even I can tell they are use some gasoline,” said Sinha. “But still, they are not paying their share.”
Another option on the table, adding $1 to cigarette packs. However, many say it’s not fair to make cigarette smokers pay for highways.
“All of those things are very good,” Sinha said. “Still, it doesn’t really do the job.”
Sp, what would do the job?
Sinha said charging vehicle owners based on the miles they drive is the best solution. It’s known as the vehicle-miles traveled tax.
“It would be half a cent per mile. One half a cent,” explained Sinha. “If you drive 10,000 miles, it will be $100.”
Sinha said this solution could be possible because of the technology we have available today. But his point is that everyone would be paying for the road funding, and if you drive more you pay more and vice versa.
The funds could be collected in the same way currently, through an autometer at gas stations.
“So the technology is there, we just need the political will,” Sinha expressed.
Alting said he undecided at this time on the vehicle-miles traveled tax. He said there will be a summer study committee that will discuss the best options available.