Top dog stays on to oversee Indiana Toll Road lease

| 8/11/2006

The former director of the Indiana Toll Road will stay on board to oversee the effects of the $3.85 billion lease to a Spanish-Australian consortium.

The lease between the state and ITR Concession Co., a subsidiary of Cintra-Macquarie, includes an annual payment of $150,000 each year from ITR for oversight and audits of the operation.

Former Indiana Toll Road Director Mike McPhillips will remain on board and be paid $75,000 each year as executive director of the Indiana Toll Road Oversight Board, appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in June.

McPhillips received a 5 percent pay increase from his former position and remains employed despite reports that ITR Concession Co. will be downsizing staff through the implementation of electronic tolling technology.

State-of-the-art electronic tolling could be installed and operational in “a few weeks,” the South Bend Tribune reported.

The Indiana Toll Road Oversight Board, appointed by the governor for accountability, met Wednesday, Aug. 9, for the first time since the new operator took control.

The Northwest Indiana News reported that the meeting was not well-publicized, but the notification was within the boundaries of state meeting laws.

The oversight board is scheduled to meet at least four times per year, make recommendations and authorize audits of the operation.

In June, the foreign investors transferred $3.85 billion into the state kitty to take over maintenance and operations of the toll road, and collect tolls for 75 years.

Gov. Daniels' 10-year transportation plan, “Major Moves,” will use the cash to finance about 200 road projects around the state, with a particular focus on the counties affected by the toll-road deal.

The privatization deal has drawn fire from Daniels' critics and political opponents, and also from a group of Indiana residents that challenged the constitutionality of “Major Moves” in court.

While the case made it to the Indiana Supreme Court, the state prevailed in the ruling.

In other news in Indiana, ITR Concession Co.'s William P. Johnson of Goshen, IN, and David R. Frick of Indianapolis were appointed July 25 as co-chairmen of the board of directors for the Cintra-Macquarie subsidiary Statewide Mobility Partners.

Johnson is a former CEO of Goshen Rubber Co. and is currently the corporate director of 1st Source Corporation and Coachmen Industries Inc., according to The Associated Press .

Frick is a former vice president of WellPoint Inc. and currently serves as chairman of the Indiana Stadium and Convention Building Authority.

By David Tanner, staff writer