Drive to boost highway funding is run off road

March 17, 2012

An amendment by Republican Indiana Sen. Dan Coats to give Indiana a bigger share of federal highway dollars has been run into a ditch.

Coats proposed an amendment to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Bill that would have allowed the state to receive the same percentage of available highway funding as residents pay in the form of gas taxes at the pump.

Had the effort been successful, Indiana would have received nearly $300 million in additional funding, Coats estimated.

coats-dan-mug.jpg Coats

Coats said the current highway bill allows so-called winner states—those that ranked high in earmarks over the years—to receive more than their fair share of highway funding.

Indiana has long been in the camp of the “donor” states, although that distinction seemed less relevant in recent years with the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road to the Spanish-Australian consortium Cintra Macquarie. The 75-year lease deal struck by Gov. Mitch Daniels about five years ago generated $3.8 billion, much of which was used to fund Daniels’ “Major Moves” highway improvement program.

Among Major Moves’ local projects was the rebuilding of Interstate 465 on the west side and I-70 east of Indianapolis.

Coats’ people say Indiana residents pay about 2.71 percent of the total federal gas tax. But under the current Senate version of the bill, the state would receive 2.35 percent of the federal highway funding distribution.•


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