Two year inspection schedule raises concerns

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(Host) A proposal to switch Vermont’s annual car inspection program to an every other year schedule is raising concerns at the Statehouse.

The Douglas Administration sees the plan as a way to offset new increases in car and truck registration fees. It wants to use the $8 million raised from the new fees to finance a new transportation bond.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The Waterbury Service Center performs several hundred car inspections every year. The cost of the inspection is between $25 and $35 depending on the age of the vehicle.

Owner Albert Caron opposes the two year inspection plan for several reasons. He readily admits that it will initially take repair business away from his shop but he also has safety concerns. He says a lot drivers don’t fix their cars until they have to and many wait until their vehicle needs an inspection sticker:

(Caron) "There are some people out there that really don’t take care of the car and they only take care of it when it is absolutely necessary when its completely broken we see them come to the shop on the wrecker with tires hanging off them broken off them."

Caron is also concerned that state inspection centers, like his business, could face additional liability issues if the change is made:

(Caron) "Now when you come for an inspection and you put a sticker on that car we’re saying ok mister customer it’s ok to drive so you implement this two year things we’re saying ok it’s good for two years in a sense it’s not really because of salt, the corrosion the roads the way they are."

House Transportation chairman Richard Westman says he also has a number concerns with the two year inspection plan:

(Westman) "Will people keep up on their maintenance will people be looking at their brakes the way they should one of the periods of time when you get checked to see if you have insurance is when you get an inspection will people drop their insurance I think there all of those questions out there."

But Westman hasn’t dismissed the plan because he says it’s critical for lawmakers to find a long term solution to repair the state’s transportation system and he says the money has to come from somewhere:

(Westman) "there’s no way that we can raise money to fund a bond or to move ahead there isn’t some complaint about there are no good choices in any of this for me the bottom line is it’s unacceptable for us to be near the bottom of the country in where our bridges are."

Vermont is expected to receive $130 million over the next two years for transportation projects in the new federal stimulus package.

Despite the new federal funds, Westman says a state bond is still needed to help address Vermont’s long term transportation needs.

For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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