Indiana and Illinois reach agreement on toll discounts

| Monday, June 18, 2007

Officials in Indiana and have Illinois resolved a dispute over toll discounts on the Indiana Toll Road.

The deal came at the last minute on Thursday, June 14 as I-Zoom electronic tolling transponders went on sale to cut a break for Hoosiers in seven counties along the route during a schedule of planned toll increases.

Electronic tolling is fast becoming a trend in modern toll collection, but it has proven to be a growing pain so far on both sides of the Indiana-Illinois state line.

The recent dispute originated when Indiana Toll Road operator ITR Concession Co. – a consortium consisting of Cintra of Spain and Macquarie of Australia – announced the planned discount for I-Zoom customers would be exclusive to Hoosiers and not to Illinois residents. Officials from the Illinois Tollway threatened to retaliate by halting existing electronic I-Pass discounts to 90,000 Indiana residents on Illinois roads if Illinois residents didn’t receive the same treatment.

The squabble ended when the Indiana Toll Road Oversight Board approved a resolution to extend the 40-percent discount to Illinois residents who have I-Pass transponders until 2016. Illinois Tollway officials issued a statement accepting the offer.

Lawmakers had already approved a schedule of future toll increases prior to the lease taking effect – part of Daniels’ “Major Moves” transportation plan that saw the state lease the 157-mile toll road to ITR Concession Co. in 2006 for $3.85 billion.

Daniels said in a letter to the oversight board that a subsidy fund set up for the Hoosier discount program would more than cover Illinois’ participation.

ITR Concession Co. plans to have electronic tolling in place for the entire 157-mile route by the end of 2007.

The toll operator was scheduled to implement electronic tolling this week on the first 23 miles from the Illinois border to Portage, IN.