Mayor picked for road study

The mayor of Franklin will help make recommendations on how state lawmakers should change what money communities get to spend on roadwork and whether taxes or fees should go up.

Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness was selected to serve on a committee that will review road funding and what projects are needed across the state, and make recommendations on how they should be paid for. The committee’s findings will be considered by state lawmakers in the next legislative session, when they are expected to come up with long-term road funding proposals, said State Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, who is co-chairing the committee.

The committee was formed as part of state legislation this year that set aside more than $1 billion in road funding, but the goal of the group is to come up with long-term funding solutions.

On the list to be considered: adjusting the way current tax money being collected is spent and adding new user fees, Kenley said. State lawmakers had discussed several options for bringing in new revenue during this year’s session, including adding tolls to certain highways, such as Interstate 65, and increasing the fuel tax.

But more options need to be considered, especially since the fuel tax is bringing in less revenue as vehicles get more efficient, Kenley said.

“We need to analyze everything that we can,” Kenley said.

The committee will begin meeting soon and will first need to analyze what projects are needed for local and state roads across Indiana, what that will cost long-term and then look at funding options, including whether the state is collecting enough money now and needs to adjust how it is being spent, or if new revenue is needed, and where that should come from, he said.

For McGuinness, the focus will be on local road funding for cities and towns, he said.

McGuinness was nominated for the committee by the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, and then named to the group by the governor. McGuinness wants to make sure local communities are represented, he said.

He is the only representative of city and town government on the 16-person statewide committee.

He already has data showing Franklin’s need for money for roadwork, compared to how much is being collected each year. For the past few years, the city has spent money from its savings to do more road projects each year, with the goal of keeping up with the needs of the city, he said.

“It tells Franklin’s story, and I don’t think Franklin is much different than any other community in the state,” he said.

Cities and towns are all dealing with the same issues: aging roads and bridges that need to be fixed, and high costs to do the work.

Milling down a road’s surface and then repaving it costs about $150,000 per mile. If a road needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, the cost is $3 million or more per mile, McGuinness said.

By comparison, Franklin’s annual road funding budget is about $675,000, with the city boosting it with added money from savings that brings the total to about $1 million.

But even that much money doesn’t address roads that need to be rebuilt, McGuinness said. The city has been able to get federal funding for some larger projects, such as rebuilding Main Street and Jefferson and King streets, but that money can’t be spent on the majority of the city’s roads under federal regulations, he said.

“We have an aging infrastructure problem that must be discussed,” he said.

McGuinness wants to focus on finding a long-term solution, not just a change that provides more money for a few years only, he said.

“I would be very disappointed if we walk away from this legislative session without some sort of plan for long-term funding,” he said.

At a glance

A statewide committee has been formed to study road funding. Here is a look at what they will do:

  • Determine road project priorities for local and state governments across Indiana.
  • Calculate how much those projects will cost on an ongoing basis.
  • Look at how much road funding the state currently collects and distributes, and determine if it should be put toward different expenses.
  • Study additional ways of raising revenue, including user-based fees, such as tolls.
Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at or 317-736-2718.