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Highway Funding Bill Passes, Won't Raise Gas Tax

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind. District 4, says the federal highway bill recently passed by Congress provides reliability in funding, eliminating the worry and stress for the state and contractors as they plan for the future of the Hoosier State’s roads.

The bill provides five years of funding, with more than $5 billion for Indiana.

Rokita, a member of the House Transportation Committee, says part of that money can be used, for the first time ever, to explore ways to separate commercial traffic – like trucks – from passenger vehicles.

“Not just building dedicated truck lanes but a physical barrier between trucks and cars for some of our busiest interstate roadways. It could also include dedicated on- and off-ramps for increased safety,” he says.

Another measure included in the highway bill requires manufacturers to post ratings for crash avoidance systems in their cars. He says some of the new safety technologies highlighted by that portion of the bill are created in Indiana.

Rokita also says the federal highway bill is paid for without gimmicks, relying mostly on the gasoline tax, with some alternate revenue streams that include funds from the Federal Reserve.

Still, he expressed disappointment the gas tax went unchanged; it hasn’t been raised since 1993.

He says Congress is shirking its responsibility by not at least tying it to inflation – a point Rokita acknowledges new Speaker and former Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, doesn’t agree with.

The Indiana Representative says he also wants to explore revenue streams that rely on user fees.

“The ideas that would be in play in a user fee concept include – and there might be others – vehicle miles taxed, public-private partnerships, more tolling,” he says.

Both Hoosier Senators – Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Dan Coats – supported the highway bill, praising the stability it will provide and hailing it as the “best solution” to address the need to repair Indiana’s infrastructure.

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