Indiana toll road plan barely passes, governor to sign

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is expected to make law a plan allowing a private Spanish-Australian consortium to lease the state’s toll road for 75 years for $3.8 billion. The bill barely cleared the house Tuesday, March 14 with a 51-48 vote before being approved by the Senate, 31-19.

Among the bill’s tweaks since its inception: a temporary freeze on tolls for noncommercial cars and trucks, the forming of a trust fund for future roads, allotment of grants to select counties and designs for a new interstate road. Axed from the original bill were provisions allowing Daniels to lease out other roads, along with other transit centers, such as airports.

Part of Daniels’ $10.6 billion Major Moves plan, the lease will funnel much-needed money into road-building projects across the state, the governor says. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has opposed the measure from the start, accusing Daniels of “mortgaging the future of the state.” The Indiana Motor Truck Association, however, endorsed Major Moves, citing transportation improvement needs. Much public debate focused on foreign ownership of the public road.