Spencer on Indiana toll road: Have they lost their minds?

| 1/5/2006

Recent developments indicate the Indiana Motor Truck Association is now supporting higher tolls on the Indiana Toll Road in exchange for the increases being phased in through 2009. According to published reports, the toll to run the entire 157-mile trip would rise to $18 this year; $22.50 in 2007; $27.50 in 2008; and to $32 in 2009.

Todd Spencer, Executive Vice President of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said while phasing in these hikes makes them a little easier to swallow, this is only one part of a very troubling direction Gov. Mitch Daniels is trying to take the state.

“The governor wants to auction off the Indiana Toll Road to the highest bidder to raise money for other projects,” said Spencer. “And they expect to receive bids above $2 billion. If it seems outrageous to you that this governor – or any governor anywhere – would propose selling property that has been paid for with tolls and taxes paid by the people, it should.”

But Spencer said there is more. Any entity from anywhere in the world could buy the road.

“This is already happening. The city of Chicago recently signed a 99-year lease of the Chicago Skyway to investors from Spain and Australia .”

Similar discussions about selling off roads are going on now in several other states.

“By using clever terms like ‘innovative financing’ or ‘public private partnerships’ they lull many people into believing this is OK – or that it might even be good public policy. It’s not!” said Spencer. “It’s just another way to get more people to part with more of their money while allowing policy makers to avoid making intelligent decisions on how transportation dollars are spent.”

Spencer pointed out that the Indiana Toll Road is a part of the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. When President Eisenhower announced his idea for these highways, he called it the National Defense Highway System.

“And now, 50 years later, we have elected officials that are trying to peddle our highway infrastructure to the highest bidder from anywhere around the globe! Talk about adding insult to injury – have they lost their minds or do they think we have?”

– Land Line staff

Editor’s note: For your lawmakers’ contact information, visit www.in.gov/apps/sos/legislator/search/list.jsp on the Internet. You can also call OOIDA’s Membership Department at 1-800-444-5791 and they’ll look it up.