The new year kicks off the first year of a new strategic plan for the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Megan Kuhn, ISA communications director, says a key part of that plan is providing farmer services. That includes emphasizing the need for Indiana to develop a long-range plan for maintaining and improving roads and bridges around the state.
Working with the Indiana Corn Marketing Council, ISA will roll out a campaign to call attention to the importance of rural infrastructure for farmers and for agriculture as a whole, Kuhn says. “We’ll be working with farmers to educate them about this campaign,” Kuhn says. “We want to show them how they can help tell the story of why rural roads and bridges are important to their farming operation.”
ISA recently launched upvestindiana.com, a micro-website that serves as a storehouse for information relating to facts, figures and recommendations about rural infrastructure issues in Indiana. “It houses the research ISA has helped fund over the past decade on infrastructure needs,” Kuhn explains. Other resources on the site also emphasize why addressing rural infrastructure is critical.
One report available on the new website is titled "Indiana Roads and Bridges: The Crumbling Reality and What It Will Take to Mend These Critical Economic Arteries." Released in August, the report was prepared by the Indiana University Public Policy Institute.
The executive summary of the report says it would take $6.4 billion to bring all of Indiana’s roads up to an acceptable level, and to repair or replace Indiana’s obsolete or structurally insufficient bridges.
How big is that number? It’s nearly triple the amount of money in Indiana’s financial reserves, the authors note. According to the report, it’s also quadruple the amount of new funds the Legislature injected into road funding formulas in 2016.
The full report lays out what it would take to bring rural roads and bridges up to an acceptable level over a 20-year period, running through 2035. It also underscores the gap in annual funding between what is available now through government channels and what it would take to complete the task.
Find the full report at upvestindiana.com.