Extra fines proposed for Indiana's 'bad drivers'

| 1/6/2006

Indiana transportation officials are looking into a possible “bad-driver surcharge” that would fine drivers who cause accidents that lead to traffic disruptions.

The fee is intended to help reduce the number of traffic-snarling crashes on the state’s most congested roadways, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Thomas Sharp, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, said the issue is worthy of consideration because drivers that cause problems take use of the roads away from others

“The whole purpose is to keep traffic moving,” Sharp said.

The surcharge would require approval from state lawmakers. Revenue generated would be used to help fund Gov. Mitch Daniels’ 10-year, $10.6 billion statewide construction plan dubbed “Major Moves.”

The effort is among others that Daniels is looking at to bolster the state’s struggling transportation budget.

Also being considered by Daniels is leasing the Indiana Toll Road to private groups. The state is considering offers by several private firms to lease the toll road for 75 years, Daniels said. Bids for the lease are due by Jan. 20.

“There’s a good chance that again, we’ll be offered money that we could not generate in this state without doubling the gas tax, or doing something equally unthinkable,” the Republican governor told WISE-TV in Fort Wayne.

The lease amount – estimated at more than $2 billion – would help the state to cover a gap of $2.8 billion needed for road and bridge work throughout the state for the next decade as well as possibly pay for an extension of Interstate 69 from Indianapolis to Evansville.

Any leasing plans also would require approval from state lawmakers.

In the meantime, plans are to go ahead and hike tolls this spring along the 157-mile route by as much as 120 percent for large trucks and 72 percent for cars.