Indiana toll road money dwindles away, so what's next?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/15/2013

Gov. Mike Pence has announced the creation of a “blue ribbon” panel that will make plans for the future of transportation infrastructure in the state.

The announcement comes as state lawmakers have been unable to come up with funding sources as Indiana’s “Major Moves” initiative comes to an end. State officials have said that something must be done because money remaining from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels’ $3.85 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road is mostly spent or due to be spent for specific projects.

As a result, Indiana must again rely on the state’s 18-cent-per-gallon fuel tax to get needed transportation work done.

Pence said the state’s transportation infrastructure gives Indiana an advantage over other states.

“With the expertise and recommendations of this blue ribbon panel, Indiana will keep its finger on the pulse of infrastructure innovation and strive to provide businesses and Hoosiers with the most efficient transportation system available,” Pence said in a news release.

The governor also stressed the importance of making do with funds already available to the state, finishing work already underway and planning for the future.

Creation of the panel was a campaign priority during his run for governor. The group will be charged with reviewing projects related to roads, rails, waterways and airports.

A list of priority projects will be identified for the next decade. In addition, the panel will consider transportation infrastructure alternatives “to keep Indiana on the cutting edge.”

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Cathy Langham, president of Langham Logistics in Indianapolis, will co-chair the panel. Additional panel members will be announced in the coming weeks.

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