By Heather Lusk
Even with a mild winter, potholes can wreak havoc on vehicles, a problem that’s exacerbated when roads are already in poor condition. But a bill currently in the Indiana Senate would help fund repairs for roads and bridges throughout the state by instituting a per vehicle fee, an electric car fee and an increase in the gas tax.
The Indiana House of Representatives approved the bill Feb. 16, 61-36.
“We have to find the money to take better care of our roads and bridges,” State Rep. Donna Schaibley said. “We’re about a billion dollars short every year in what we need to be committing to our roads.”
According to a 2015 Pavement Surface Evaluation and Rating report, more than 50 percent of Zionsville’s roads are in poor or failing condition.
Schaibley said that road issues are a concern and an issue throughout the state.
“We haven’t put the necessary money behind them to take care of them properly,” she said.
Superintendent Lance Lantz of Zionsville’s Street and Stormwater Dept. has heard of only one major incident in town this winter due to potholes, but he said that many roads within Zionsville’s boundaries, in particular those in the rural district, are under county jurisdiction.
Boone County Highway Engineer Craig Parks said it’s necessary to maintain good roads vs. continually addressing those in the worst shape.
“The more we defer maintenance, the higher the resulting cost is,” Parks said. “If we can use lower cost measures earlier in the life of the highway, you’re money ahead.”
Parks said the increased use of electric and fuel-efficient vehicles has negatively impacted the gas tax meant to help repair roads.
“They need to look at multiple funding sources,” he said. “I think the tax (the House has) put together is trying to keep up with technology and get ahead of technology advances.”