AASHTO Journal

Indiana Governor Names Committee to Guide Use of VW Project Funds

Gov. Eric Holcomb created an 11-person Indiana government committee, which includes Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness, to finalize plans for how Indiana will spend its share of the new Volkswagen mitigation trust for transportation projects.

After the carmaker was found to have used defeat devices on its light-duty diesel models to pass U.S. emission tests, VW eventually agreed to a federal settlement in which it sets aside about $5 billion over 10 years for states and tribes to invest in a range of emission reduction projects. (See related story in Nation section.)

mcguinness-indot-Jan2017.jpg McGuinness

Of those totals, VW is spending $2 billion specifically for investments in infrastructure such as charging stations to support deployment of electrics or "zero-emission vehicles," with $800 earmarked for use in California and $1.2 billion outside of it.

The rest is in the broader mitigation trust of nearly $3 billion that VW will fund, with the total established through a series of court-filed consent agreements. It specifies how much money each state can use.

Projects the trust can fund include replacing or repowering older freight trucks and port drayage trucks, school and transit buses, government-owned vehicles, airport ground equipment, freight rail switcher locomotives, ferries and tugboats, and installation of shore power systems that allow ocean-going vessels to power down their engines while docked.

That trust officially took effect Oct. 2, which began a process in which states and other qualifying beneficiaries register with it by Dec. 1, then submit their mitigation plans and project funding requests. The funds are expected to start flowing into projects early in 2018.

In an executive order, Holcomb said Indiana stands to receive $40.9 million from the mitigation trust, and that the Department of Environmental Management as the state's lead agency has already been exploring how to deploy the funds.

"The 11-member committee is charged with establishing appropriate procedures for distributing the funds and working with IDEM to develop a plan for how the funds should be used, which must be made available for public comment," the announcement said.

The committee includes the IDEM commissioner and officials from state environmental, economic development, energy, ports and agriculture agencies plus other officials.

Questions regarding this article may be directed to editor@aashtojournal.org.

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