The Journal Gazette
Sunday, July 09, 2017 1:00 am

Tax to pave way for roads

Funds from gas hike may be used for immediate repairs

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Dollars from the newly increased gas tax and fees will start flowing into local coffers in a few months and officials already have plans on how to use the extra cash.

Millions more will be available for investment in local asphalt, bridges, county roads and more.

“It's a good shot in the arm to fill in the gaps where we were falling behind,” said Scott Tilden, Kosciusko County highway superintendent. “Hoosiers should see a real difference.”

That could come quickly if local units choose to use the money for repairs and preservation rather than new construction, which requires more long-range engineering.

The revenue will flow into two local road funds, which use population, vehicle registrations and road miles to send the money to city, counties and towns.

Allen County will see $13.9 million in 2018 – up from $9.6 million in 2016, according to an analysis done by the Local Technical Assistance Program at Purdue University.

Fort Wayne should see an additional $4.5 million in 2018, the city said.

Allen County has been struggling to keep up with maintaining roads, said Kim Yagodinski, finance manager for the Allen County highway department.

The county, for example, has more than 500 miles of asphalt road and should resurface 43 miles per year to keep up with the life of the roads. But the department only had 5 miles of asphalt repaving in the budget. Now it hopes to increase that to between 25 and 30 miles.

Allen County Highway Department Director Bill Hartman said preliminarily the county plans to focus on maintenance. This includes asphalt resurfacing and resealing of current roads. And it wants to do at least 10 miles next year of converting gravel roads to chip-and-seal. The latter is a special protective wearing surface applied to existing pavement.

Overall, the county has 1,370 road miles to care for.

“We still don't have enough to do everything we need, but you will absolutely see a difference,” Hartman said, noting this will especially be true by the end of next year's construction season.

Fort Wayne spokesman John Perlich said the new funding will help provide nearly $25 million worth of neighborhood infrastructure projects throughout the city each year.

“Specific projects will be outlined in the coming months as we get closer to the 2018 construction season,” he said. “Currently, we're meeting with members of city council and neighborhood leaders as we work together to prioritize the investments for 2018.”

Road funding

Increases for 2018 over 2016

Adams: $1.2 million

Allen: $4.25 million

DeKalb: $1.38 million

Huntington: $1.26 million

Kosciusko: $2.27 million

LaGrange: $1.3 million

Noble: $1.54 million

Steuben: $1.19 million

Wabash: $1.28 million

Wells: $1.22 million

Whitley: $1.22 million

Source: Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program at Purdue University

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