Road Funding Per Capita: Who Gets the Least and Who Gets the Most?

21 Jul

I69bridgeToday’s Indy Star published an article on the state’s new 5-year road investment plan funded by the new 10-cent gas tax increase: Which Indiana counties will get the most road funding? (Hint: Not Hamilton County). The article provides data on the amount of funding provided per capita for each county, and highlights the top 10 and bottom 10.

Two aspects of the article that I found particularly noteworthy:

  1. We (Monroe County) will be receiving the lowest amount per capita in the state, at $71.91 per person (compared to $4115.06 for the highest county).
  2. Our neighbor to the north, Morgan County, will be receiving the most per capita at $4115.06.

The article doesn’t really touch on the Monroe County amount, but does note that “Morgan County — home to Martinsville and Mooresville — will by far receive the most road funding per capita at about $4,115 per person.” The article then goes on to quote an INDOT spokesman about state-maintained road-miles and the condition of of roads and bridges in each county. But I’m left astounded that the article doesn’t even mention the obvious reason and context both for Monroe County’s low number and Morgan County’s particularly high number: I-69.

In fact, if you look at the individual road projects in the plan for Morgan County (available here, on pages 144-145), construction of I-69 (the beginnings of Section 6) represents nearly all — $263M out of $287M — of the funding allocated to Morgan County. And conversely, Monroe County is currently “experiencing” over $300M of investment in I-69 and related roads that will (we can only hope) end before the FY2018 funding indicated in the 5-year plan starts to be expended.

One side note is that this situation illustrates that the per-capita measure — and even the per-county measure of investment — is of limited value when long-haul highways are considered. After all, the portion of I-69 that goes through Morgan County certainly does serve Morgan County and its residents — but it also serves residents of many other counties and potentially other states who only want to get through Morgan County as quickly as possible.

 

 

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