Rep. Porter: State talks tolls while other programs set aside
INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, today issued the following statement to offer a different perspective on the continuing debate over funding Indiana’s roads:
“There have been two recent developments in the ongoing discussions over road funding. One has drawn a fair amount of public attention, while the other has been completely ignored. However, both demand further scrutiny.
“As many know, the Holcomb Administration has embarked on a full-blown study on the feasibility of tolling pretty much every Interstate highway in Indiana. A consultant is getting more than $9 million to do this study.
“What hasn’t been noticed is the demise of a Weigh-In Motion Commercial Truck pilot program that had been in place along I-94 in Porter County. This program went away without much discussion by either the governor or the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT).
“This Weigh-In Motion program was supposed to be a potential solution to our state’s failure to provide a truly effective enforcement program to deal with overweight commercial trucks and the physical damage and potential jeopardy that non-compliant semis bring to Indiana’s highways and bridges and the safety of the motoring public.
“Indiana has a dubious history when it comes to making sure that all commercial vehicles are keeping up with state rules and regulations.
“Nearly a decade ago, then-Gov. Daniels drastically reduced the numbers of motor carrier enforcement officers as part of his unceasing cost-cutting initiatives. As a result, many seasoned veterans were let go to save a few dollars.
“In addition, many of Indiana’s physical weigh stations are not fully operational at a time when commercial truck traffic is increasing on a daily basis and expected to double in the next 20 to 25 years.
“As a result, it is estimated that Indiana is losing as much as $80 million in revenue a year from fines that are not being collected from trucks that are in violation of our weight and load restrictions.
“The Weigh-In Motion program was pitched as cutting edge technology that would enable the state to provide vigilant enforcement of highway weight restrictions and minimize the costs of said enforcement.
“Now that the program is gone, who really knows where we go from here?
“If so-called cutting edge technology doesn’t seem to work, perhaps it would be prudent to operate our existing weigh stations in a more effective manner, and perhaps explore the possibility of re-hiring additional motor carrier enforcement officers.
“Not only would that reaffirm a commitment to protecting our infrastructure and the traveling public, it would realize that the chance of collecting another $80 million in revenue from proper enforcement might keep us from having to go overboard on tolling.”