Good roads key to state's future
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 11:00 AM
After a summer of traffic delays and detours, it may seem Indiana always is working on its highways.
But a new study suggests we need to make even more improvements.
A report by Reason Foundation rates Indiana 22nd of the 50 states in the condition and cost-effectiveness of roads. We've been sliding downhill since we ranked 14th in 2005.
The report ranks states on categories such as pavement condition of interstate highways, traffic congestion, condition of bridges and spending per mile on roads.
Indiana leaders believe traffic congestion hurts our rankings, but that's mostly around large urban areas. Our bottlenecks are found around Gary, Indianapolis, and the Jeffersonville/Clarksville area across from Louisville.
State leaders say we're on a path to raising Indiana's rating with projects such as the extension of I-69 to the Evansville area, new bridges in the Jeffersonville area and improvements to U.S. 31 between Indianapolis and South Bend.
Future needs include widening high-traffic areas of Interstate 65 and Interstate 70, if not their entire routes across the state.
Last winter, the Indiana Legislature added more than $200 million a year for state and local road projects.
In the long run, to keep our roads in shape, Indiana will have to find a way to compensate for declining revenue from gasoline taxes. The fact that Indiana government enjoys a much better financial status than many states should help us start climbing in the road rankings.
Indiana can't afford to settle for middle-of-the-pack highways. The state claims to be the "Crossroads of America," and we've staked our future heavily on that belief.