OOIDA against leasing Indiana Toll Road to foreign companies

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The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is against the governor’s plan to allow a private Spanish-Australian consortium to lease the Indiana Toll Road. The Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee has passed HB 1008, which would allow the Indiana Finance Authority to make agreements with private entities on toll roads. The House passed the bill 52-47.

The consortium wants to lease the 157-mile northern Indiana highway for 75 years for $3.8 billion. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer testified against the bill earlier this month. “The governor is mortgaging the future of the state of Indiana,” Spencer said. “These leases sound like a lot of money on the front end, but what about when the money runs out? What do you put on the auction block next?”

The Indiana Finance Authority is holding public hearings on the matter March 23 and 24 in Indianapolis. Another bill, SB 221, would prohibit the authority from selling the road to any entity other than the state and prohibit the road from being leased or operated by any party other than the state transportation department.

Last month, the Indiana Motor Truck Association endorsed “Major Moves,” Gov. Mitch Daniels’ plan for a decade of transportation improvement that includes the toll road. The association had opposed the plan until Daniels agreed to increase truck tolls in phases rather than all at once: from $14.55 to $18 in April, to $22.50 in 2007, to $27.25 in 2008 and to $32 in 2009.