By State Senator Richard D. Young, Jr. (D-Milltown)
Word Count: 391

To grow, every family, community and business depends on a strong infrastructure. Without it, people and products don’t move and our economy stalls.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently gave Indiana a D+ for infrastructure.  In 2013 nearly a quarter of Indiana’s bridges were either graded structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and nearly 17 percent of our major roads received a poor or mediocre rating. This is simply unacceptable.

Deteriorating bridges and roadways don’t necessarily pose a safety risk to motorists, but they are subject to weight, speed and traffic restrictions as a result of their aging design. It goes without saying, bad infrastructure costs Hoosiers a lot of money. The ASCE estimates that driving on roads in need of repair costs Indiana drivers an extra $225 per year for additional car repairs and operating expenses. This adds up to a lot of wasted money that motorists could put to better use.

From 2009 to 2011, Indiana spent 71 percent of its transportation funding on new roads, with only 29 percent going toward existing road repair.  Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan federal budget watchdog organization, stated that this method of road funding is wasteful.  With many local roads crumbling after the harsh winter most of the state experienced this year, it’s clear something needs to be done.

States that have ignored needed road repairs – like Texas and Michigan – have reverted to grinding some roads back down to dirt and gravel.  This simply can’t be an option for Indiana.

The Indiana General Assembly, Governor Pence and the Department of Transportation must do a better job of prioritizing our transportation dollars. Although the General Assembly recently approved an additional $200 million for road projects, those funds will be used to widen highways we already have. Attempts by Democrats to increase local road funding by $25 million were overwhelmingly rejected. While the governor is correct in saying that roads create jobs, investing in our local infrastructure is as important for economic development as widening highways.

Now more than ever, Indiana needs to focus on maintaining existing roads. Good infrastructure encourages new investment, and if we want Indiana to grow and attract businesses and jobs, we need to be doing everything possible to keep the flow of people and goods moving. As the “Crossroads of America”, the Hoosier economy depends on it.

Sen. Young represents Senate District 47 which encompasses portions of Crawford, Dubois, Harrison, Orange, Perry and Washington counties. For more information on Sen. Young, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business, call 1-800-382-9467 or visit