Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb wants to invest $1 billion in infrastructure. Who’s paying for it?
On Tuesday, Sept. 4, Holcomb announced his infrastructure plan for 2019 called the Next Level Connections program. In order to pay for the program, the Indiana Finance Authority will amend its agreement with the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. to allow the company to increase tolls on heavy vehicles by 35 percent.
Only Class 3 and above vehicles will be affected by the toll increase. Tolls for the entire 157-mile trip along I-90 for a Class 5 truck will increase from $44.46 to $60.02. Annual increases will continue as planned in the original agreement. The Indiana Finance Authority will consider the amendment later this month.
In 2006, the Indiana Motor Truck Association endorsed the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years in exchange for a phased-in truck rate. Now, the association is looking into its options.
“We are engaged at several different levels and are evaluating what, if any, options might be available to us,” IMTA president Gary Langston told Land Line.
According to a news release, the $1 billion in proceeds from the amended agreement will be used to fund planned road projects in the seven toll road counties, which will free up Indiana Department of Transportation resources to be directed to the Next Level Connections program. Essentially, increased toll rates for heavy vehicles will indirectly fund the governor’s infrastructure plan.
The new agreement will inject $50 million into additional toll road upgrades, including a smart truck parking system and expansion of overhead message boards, cameras and variable speed signs. More than $500 million in upgrades will be invested over a 10-year period.
The $1 billion will be paid out over three years: $400 million this October, $300 million next October and the remaining $300 million in October 2020.
The infrastructure program will expand broadband services in rural areas, grow the state’s systems of trails, create more nonstop international flights, move up the completion of major highway projects and continue to pursue building a new fourth water port at Lawrenceburg and expansion of rail projects in northwest Indiana.
The bulk of the funding, $600 million, will go toward the completion of Interstate 69 Section 6. Nearly $200 million will fund improvements to U.S. 20 and 30, as well as new interchanges on U.S. 31.
Approximately $100 million will be used to bring affordable high-speed fiber optic broadband access to unserved and underserved areas in the state. Another $90 million will be invested in new hiking, biking and riding trails. Additional nonstop flights to and from Indianapolis will run $20 million.
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