Gas prices could increase to help fund road, bridge repairs

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GROVEPORT, Ohio -- There are 357 bridges in Franklin County. Forty-eight of them are 100 years old. The question is, 'how to pay for the repairs?'

In February, President Donald Trump endorsed the idea of a 25 cent-per-gallon tax increase that would be phased in over five years.

The issue arose this week when both candidates for governor were asked about how to fix Ohio's crumbling infrastructure.

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Republican Mike DeWine suggested convening a blue-ribbon panel to decide the best approach.

Democrat Richard Cordray says he's prepared to put a bond package before voters, which he believes they will pass.

The current federal tax on gas is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel.

Ohio Department of Transportation spokesperson Matt Bruning says state projects are being completed without having to raise gas taxes.

"During the Kasich administration, we will have invested an unprecedented $16.4 billion into our roads and bridges, all without raising the gasoline tax. This is due to ODOT becoming more efficient and plugging those savings back into our infrastructure, leveraging the Ohio Turnpike, technology and other innovative financings. However, due to factors such as inflation and rising fuel efficiencies, we know that a national conversation is needed to identify a more sustainable funding source for transportation infrastructure, going forward," Bruning said.

Elaine Nessle, the Executive Director of the Coalition for America's Gateway and Trade Corridors, says the rise of electric vehicles forces them to look beyond the fuel tax. However, Nessle believes there is another 10 to 15 years before a change will need to be made.

Until then, engineers say they're struggling to extend the lives of bridges with fewer dollars.

Franklin County engineer Cornell Robertson says, "If something doesn't change we'll be faced with the utilizing the revenue streams that we have. We will have to continue with these band-aid type of repairs."