Bankrupt Indiana Toll Road cleared to be re-leased

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 10/29/2014

The first private operator of the Indiana Toll Road made it just eight years into a 75-year lease before going bankrupt, and now a court decision this week will put the roadway back up for bid and give someone else a shot.

Judge Pamela Hollis of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chicago has approved a debt-reorganization plan submitted by the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co., the Spanish-Australian consortium that leased the toll road for $3.85 billion in 2006 and filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 21 of this year.

The debt-reorganization includes selling off the remaining portion of the lease to the highest bidder. Global firms are standing by for a chance to swoop in and take over the lease and collect the toll revenue.

The ITR Concession Co., which consists of Cintra of Spain and Macquarie of Australia, reported in September it was $6 billion in debt.

Officials have cited lower-than-projected traffic volumes and the 2009 recession as being major contributors to the bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, truckers and other roadway users have seen their tolls increase as much as 176 percent in the eight-year span of the lease.

A five-axle truck that paid $14 for a one-way trip across northern Indiana in 2006 currently pays $38.70 per trip.

OOIDA fought against the lease from the beginning and helped back a constitutional challenge. That challenge was rejected by the Indiana Supreme Court.

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