Indiana roads to gain improvements via gas tax hike

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announces a list of infrastructure projects that will get funding in next five years under Indiana's Next Level Roads initiative, a 20-year program to improve Indiana's roads and bridges, during a press conference in Indianapolis on July 13, 2017. Joining him for the announcement are Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness, left, and Speaker of the House Brian Bosma. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Get ready to see a lot more orange on Indiana’s roads after Gov. Eric Holcomb laid out a nearly $5 billion road plan.

This comes after the price at the pump went up July 1 by 10 cents a gallon, part of a gas tax increase to fix roads and bridges.

“Literally, the asphalt and concrete is being poured, and they are driving on it,” Holcomb said.

The state had already had money to work on projects, but, on Thursday, Holcomb said the extra gas tax money will help fund Next Level Indiana.

“This investment will equate to $4.7 billion, just under $5 billion into projects over the next five years,” Holcomb said.

Here’s how the state plans to use the money. It will add 122 miles of lanes, fix almost 1,300 bridges and fix potholes by resurfacing nearly 10,000 miles of roads.

Holcomb said he believes the road work will ease the pinch at the pump. “They’re going to see it, they’re going to feel it and they’re going to drive on it,” he said. “That’s not just needed but that’s what Hoosiers expect and deserve.”

Republican lawmakers hope the visuals work. House Speaker Brian Bosma, a Republican from Indianapolis, expects the gas tax increase will generate political pressure during next year’s primary.

“It will happen, I’m sure, but Hoosiers, everyone I’ve talked to, with a few minor exceptions, has been supportive of this,” Bosma said.

A road plan lawmakers say will cost each Hoosier nearly $80 more a year. An investment they said is needed to keep the Crossroads of America motto.

“Today, tomorrow, we’re fixing things, and we’re doing it now and we’re paying for it now,” Holcomb said.

The initiative isn’t just getting a boost from the gas tax increase. Next year, Hoosiers will pay vehicle fees. And next fall, the state will release a study that could add tolls to Indiana’s roads

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