Indiana’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Infrastructure believes more highway and bridge projects are needed in the state, but a major road block may be looming.
The panel is recommending an index of the state gas tax to increase with inflation, a move that is not always popular with lawmakers.
“We do believe we are the Crossroads of America and transportation is ripe for transformation in Indiana,” said Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann, who co-chairs the panel.
The Blue Ribbon group used a three-tier approach for prioritizing needed projects in the region. Projects on I-69 and I-70, the Commerce Connector, which would be a new bypass circling Indianapolis, and an Ohio River Bridge over I-69 are at the top of the list. A four-lane highway in the southwest corner of Indiana and making U.S. 30 an interstate also were recognized as projects that needed to be executed.
Along with indexing the gas tax, it also was suggested that the state consider user fees for those motorists with more fuel-efficient cars. Other recommendations included:
- Increase the length of semi-trailers permitted on highways from 53 ft to 57 ft to increase payload per truck;
- Require trailers have three axles instead of two to reduce weight per axle by about 50%;
- Build more high-occupancy lanes; and
- Allow the use of driverless vehicles.