Some Indiana Toll Road workers opt to leave privatized jobs

| 1/18/2007

Employees of the Indiana Toll Road are facing a deadline this week. They must decide whether they want to work for the foreign businesses that leased the road in July 2006.

The employees could either hire on with the new operator, ITR Concession Co. - a partnership of Cintra of Spain and Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Australia - or remain employed in other undetermined positions with the state of Indiana.

An ITR spokesman, Matt Pierce, told Land Line on Thursday, Jan. 18, that 85 percent of the 563 toll road employees surveyed since the lease was signed said they wanted to work for ITR Concession Co. The other 15 percent elected to continue their employment with the state.

"No one's losing a job," Pierce said. "The lion's share will be doing the same job tomorrow that they were doing yesterday."

Pierce said the company is scheduled to conduct additional interviews on Friday, Jan. 19, when the bulk of employees will begin signing their commitment letters to work for the company.

ITR Concession Co. paid the state of Indiana $3.85 billion for control of the 157-mile toll road in July 2006. The lease is for 75 years.

Gov. Mitch Daniels, a principal player in the state leasing the road to the private investors, said the state will continue to employ the people not hired by toll road operator.

Benefits will not be taken away from employees vested in the Public Employees' Retirement Fund. The employees can either roll their investments into a 401(k) plan or hold onto their existing fund until retirement.

Customer service for motorists and truckers will remain a priority, Pierce said.

"These employees will be the same ones that were already operating and maintaining the roadway," he said.

- By David Tanner, staff writer