Indiana governor decides against new tolls for now

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 11/30/2018

Although Indiana implemented a truck-only toll in October, there is some good news regarding tolls coming out of the Hoosier State: Gov. Eric Holcomb has decided not to move forward with additional tolls.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, Gov. Holcomb issued a letter to the state Budget Committee regarding tolls. Mandated by HB 1002, the governor advised the committee that enough money is available to avoid any new tolls. Holcomb then issued a strategic interstate tolling plan for future consideration.

“The Strategic Plan does not make a recommendation about implementation of a statewide interstate tolling program,” the Indiana Department of Transportation wrote to Holcomb. “It provides a series of strategies for how INDOT could implement a statewide interstate tolling program if Indiana decides to proceed.” (Emphasis is INDOT’s.)

Motorists can thank truckers, in part, for the decision. According to the letter, in addition to a fuel tax increase implemented last year, Holcomb also mentioned how the recent Next Level Connections agreement, aka truck-only tolls, has injected $800 million more for road projects. Essentially, the state has enough money for road projects in the foreseeable future.

“As you well know, the decisions made by the General Assembly in 2017 have put Indiana in an enviable position,” Holcomb wrote. “We are at the beginning of a road construction blitz.”

HB 1002 required a toll feasibility study to be reported to the governor by November 2017. Subsequently, the bill ordered the governor to create a strategic plan for tolling interstate highways by Dec. 1, 2018.

As required, Holcomb submitted a statewide interstate tolling strategic plan along with the letter. The plan reiterates that the state has not made the decision to implement a statewide interstate tolling program. However, the costs for major interstate improvements is estimated to run approximately $4.65 billion, more than four times the Indiana Department of Transportation’s entire 2018 capital program. Since tolling could fund those projects, Holcomb is leaving the option on the table for future consideration.

“While I do not intend to move forward with the plan, there may be good reasons to revisit this report in the future,” Holcomb said in a statement. “In the least, I do not want to foreclose a successor from considering tolling as an option for infrastructure improvements.”

In addition to the toll recommendations, INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness recommends the state investigate other “fee-based programs,” including a vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, tax.

 

 

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