Our state and local roads and bridges touch the lives of most Hoosiers nearly every day and hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. What better statement to make to our taxpayers and our guests than Indiana takes care of our largest asset in an efficient and quality manner, by taking care of our infrastructure? To all a statement is made: If the state and local governments are properly taking care of what I can see, they must be taking care of what I can’t see.
Due to our central location in the contiguous United States and the large presence of the logistical industry, Indiana can and must be a national leader in providing top-quality infrastructure. Well-planned highway improvements can show a huge return on investment. In Westfield, INDOT recently invested nearly $250 million in upgrading U.S. 31 to freeway status. In the year 2016, Westfield had more than $330M in residential and commercial building permits issued. At least a large part of the nearly two-year doubling of this figure was a result of the U.S. 31 project. This just goes to show you how important investment in roadways is to attracting residents and businesses to a community.
Our investment must be adequately maintained. You don’t purchase a new vehicle and then fail to regularly change the oil. Last winter, roads were in such disrepair that “Rough Pavement” signs had to be placed along several stretches of I-65 between Lebanon and Lafayette.
Local governments must not be forgotten in this discussion. It costs the City of Westfield approximately $10,000 per mile to properly maintain, patch, sign, mow and plow a mile of roadway. Our current income from various sources is about $5,000 per mile.
I ask that our legislature adequately fund, in a sustainable manner, our state and local roadways. Raising taxes is not fun – I know from experience. But neglecting our obligations is much worse in the long run for the future of our state. Benefit to our roads, and to Hoosier communities, will serve as an ongoing testament to the decisive action taken now.
J. Andrew Cook, Mayor