News and Tribune

May 24, 2013

NASH: The roads we must travel

Local columnist

The Indiana State Legislature has finished its 2013 session and passed an income tax cut for hard working Hoosiers. The tax cut of 5 percent, which was half as much as Gov. Mike Pence was asking for, had been a campaign pledge of the 2012 gubernatorial election.

 As the governor and his cohorts are busy patting themselves on the back for all the money that they are returning to the taxpayers, I can think of several things they could have spent that money on. I just don’t understand how our Southern Indiana lawmakers  haven’t noticed the interstate highway to get to Indianapolis is falling apart.

My portion of the income tax cut will be under $100 and it won’t pay for any damage to my car if I hit another one of those bumps in the road. I don’t exactly know what they are; they’re not pot holes, they’re just rough patches that feel like you have hit a speed bump at 70 miles per hour when you go over them.

I drive Interstate 65 between Sellersburg and just north of Columbus every couple of weeks and something needs to be done about it soon. The stretch of road between Scottsburg and Seymour is especially bad. I avoid the right lane at all costs when I travel.

The last governor talked and talked about his groundbreaking deal to lease Indiana’s toll road to improve the infrastructure for the entire state. Major Moves committed an additional $2.6 billion to construction projects around the Indiana. It was suppose to be the envy of all the other states. From the roads I have driven lately, Indiana is behind when it comes to maintaining its roads.

One problem is it hasn’t been that long since the road was totally overhauled and it is already in need of more work. All of the money from Major Moves has been spent, yet the road from Louisville to Indianapolis is crumbling.

I just got back from a trip where I traveled on the Interstate highway of three other states. I drove Interstate 65 South through Kentucky all the way to Nashville, Tenn. From there I drove west along Interstate 40 through Little Rock to my final destination of Hot Springs, Ark.

On this trip I drove roughly 1,200 miles there and back almost entirely on interstate highways.  I was on the road in three different states, all of which have a lower median income than Indiana. The roads that I traveled were all in much better shape than the segment of Interstate 65 that I have to travel a couple of times a month.

Not every road that I traveled on my vacation was perfect. There were some roads that were better than others. There was also a stretch in Kentucky and Arkansas that were under construction for several miles, but even those roads seemed better than ours. Why have these other states been able to maintain their roads properly while Hoosier roads have fallen in disrepair?

I have also noticed a difference when it comes to cable barriers. These are the steel cables that have been installed in the medians to prevent cross-over accidents. From what I witnessed every other states has done a better job of maintaining the barriers, especially after being hit. The cable barriers in Indiana have been damaged from collisions and have not been repaired properly. I assume that they are less effective in doing their job properly, which is a safety concern.

Indiana lawmakers have talked about how much better shape our state is compared to its neighbors. They talk about new and innovative thinking that has given our state a leg up on the competition and how our future looks so much brighter.

Our new governor thinks that by lowering taxes on Indiana residents it will make our state more attractive to business. I believe that we should also spend enough money to keep our infrastructure from crumbling to make our state attractive to everyone.  

Over the last several years Indiana lawmakers have made themselves  more popular by lowering taxes. They were able to get property tax capped and now they have lowered our income tax rate. It is great that we are able to afford these tax cuts, but what is the ultimate cost? If the roads that Hoosiers travel to get from here to there are impassable due to lack of maintenance, then what good are all of these tax cuts anyway?


Matthew Nash can be reached at