A new study says it will take billions over the next twenty years to get rural roads and bridges throughout Indiana where they need to be. The number is almost $6.4 billion. That amount is needed to get rural Indiana roads to an acceptable level while also repairing or replacing the state’s functionally obsolete or structurally deficient bridges, according to the study released in August by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute, and funded by the Indiana corn and soybean checkoffs.
“The unique part of our study was the fact that it was a twenty-year outlook as opposed to just an immediate needs study,” explains Ed Ebert with the corn and soybean groups. “It in effect followed along very closely with what Governor Holcomb had been stressing both in the campaign and after his inauguration in terms of long term, sustainable funding and also a long-term plan or vision for what’s going on in Indiana’s roads and infrastructure. The Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance have since 2009 been very interested in infrastructure and transportation issues as they relate to farmers trying to get their crops to both domestic and global customers in terms of grain flow.”
Not surprisingly, the dollar estimates are quite large, but so too are the obstacles farmers face with grain and equipment transport.
Indiana HB 1002, the road funding plan that would generate around $1.2 billion each year for the next 20 years, has passed the House 61-36, and now moves to the Senate where plenty of resistance to the funding methods is expected. Ebert says the Indiana corn and soybean policy organizations support that measure.
“Both of the policy organizations here in the state, Indiana Corn Growers Association and the policy organization of the Indiana Soybean Alliance are both very supportive of House Bill 1002 which is making its way through the legislature as we speak,” Ebert said.
A unique aspect of this newest research is that it reached out to the usual sources but also agriculture’s end users of Indiana rural infrastructure.
“We also went out across the state in regional meetings and spoke directly farmers and infrastructure users like grain haulers and processing plants and grain companies that are seeing the utilization of these resources and trying to get their input as well. I think that takes it beyond just the academic realm and actually tried to get out and talk with farmers about what their true needs were and what their concerns were.”
To learn more Indiana corn and soybean have developed www.upvestindiana.com, a site full of resources that help explain the need for upkeep and upgrade across rural Indiana to keep Indiana farmers competitive domestically and globally.
Ebert is Senior Director of Grain Production and Utilization at Indiana Corn and Indiana Soybean Alliance.