Indiana Senate OKs leasing toll road

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ plan to allow a private Spanish-Australian consortium to lease the state’s toll road cleared the State Senate on Thursday, March 2. The bill already cleared the House but may face tweaks before being signed by Daniels.

If Daniels signs the bill, Indiana would lease the 157-mile northern Indiana highway for 75 years for $3.8 billion. Possible tweaks, according to media reports, include the forming of a trust fund for future road construction, allotment of grants to nearby counties and designs of a new interstate road.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes the measure, accusing Daniels of “mortgaging the future of the state of Indiana.” The Indiana Motor Truck Association, however, has endorsed “Major Moves,” 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.