Indiana holding public forums about tolling I-69 extension

| 6/28/2006

The ink will barely be dry on the Indiana Toll Road lease on Thursday, when state officials begin public forums on another privatization deal in the works for Interstate 69.

The Australian/Spanish consortium, ITR Concession Co., is set to close on the $3.85 billion Toll Road lease Thursday morning, June 29. The foreign investors will collect and keep toll revenue on the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years.

State officials want a similar deal for an I-69 extension. The Indiana Department of Transportation has scheduled four public forums Thursday to gather public input on whether a proposed 142-mile extension of I-69 from Indianapolis to Evansville should be a toll road.

Gov. Mitch Daniels earlier this year signed a bill into law that included the authorization for the lease of the Indiana Toll Road and other projects under the heading of “Major Moves.”

Daniels’ $10 billion “Major Moves” transportation plan outlines how the revenue from the Toll Road lease will be spent on road projects around the state.

Part of the deal is the 142-mile extension of I-69, eyed by state and federal officials to be part of a NAFTA inter-modal system of transportation from Mexico to Canada.

Daniels said he hopes to break ground on the $2 billion I-69 extension in 2008, according to the Indianapolis Star.

A group of Indiana residents, with the Indiana Toll Road and the I-69 extension in mind, challenged the constitutionality of “Major Moves” in court, but Daniels and the state received a favorable ruling last week from the Indiana Supreme Court.

The public forums Thursday, June 29, on the topic of possibly tolling I-69 from Indianapolis to Evansville are scheduled for:

  • 9 to 11 a.m. at the I-69 section office, 7550 S. Meridian St. in Indianapolis.
  • 9 to 11 a.m. at the office of AMVETS, a veterans group, 5227 W. Airport Road in Bloomington.
  • 2 to 4 p.m. at the I-69 section office, 2 Commercial Park Drive in Washington.
  • 2 to 4 p.m. at the I-69 section office, Oakland City University, Stinson Hall, 139 N. Lucretia St., in Oakland City.

ITR Concession Co., which will operate the Indiana Toll Road lease, consists of investors Cintra Concessiones de Infrastructuras de Transporte, S.A., of Spain and Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Australia.

The same investment consortium, under the name Skyway Consession Co., operates the 99-year, $1.83 billion lease of the Chicago Skyway in Illinois.

– By David Tanner, staff writer