Letter: Best road funding option? Tolls on busiest highways

From: Greg Phillips


I found Larry DeBoer’s article in the Saturday paper on road repairs extremely informative regarding why more revenue generation is needed and also concerning options on ways to generate this revenue. The only fault I found with it is why it was an opinion piece. It was full of very informative facts, but he failed to give his opinion, so allow me to give you my thoughts:

To review, the basic mechanisms for funding road repairs are: 1. General funding from everyone, even those who do not drive, benefits from our highway system. This is the same thought process that we all benefit from the education for children, so we all pay for it. 2. Increasing tax on fuel. 3. Increasing excise tax at the BMV. 4. Make the interstates toll roads.

As Mr. DeBoer points out, for some reason we want road maintenance to be funded by drivers, so option 1 will probably never happen.

Increasing the tax on fuel would seem a straightforward and easy solution, however, there is always the potential for unintended consequences. A Government Accounting Office study reports that although a fully loaded 18-wheeler semi weighs about the same as 20 automobiles, it causes the road damage equivalent of 9,600 cars. If the cost of fuel is increased with taxes, truckers will very likely fill up in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan or Kentucky, then drive completely though our state and never buy fuel. This could have the unintended consequence of causing more road damage while actually generating less revenue. Also consider that vehicles are becoming more fuel efficient and electric cars do not use fuel at all.

Increasing excise tax would affect only those vehicles registered in our state with no increase in revenue from out-of-state drivers who also use Indiana’s highways.

The solution that appears to me to be most appropriate is to make our busiest roads toll roads. This is the only way to guarantee that those who use our roads are supporting their maintenance.

Whether you agree with my opinion or not, contact your legislator and give your opinion on this important topic, House Bill 1002.