Lawsuit seeks to roll back Indiana’s truck toll hikes

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OOIDA is suing Indiana over a recent 35 percent increase in truck tolls on the Indiana Toll Road.OOIDA is suing Indiana over a recent 35 percent increase in truck tolls on the Indiana Toll Road.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is suing the state of Indiana and several state officials, including Gov. Eric Holcomb, over the state’s move to institute a 35 percent increase in toll prices for Class 3 and larger trucks that operate on I-80 and I-90. The toll hike took effect in October.

OOIDA is seeking to overturn the toll increases and for refunds of tolls paid since the October increase went into effect.

The group argues that the tolls violate the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. They also claim the tolls are discriminatory against out-of-state truck operators. OOIDA also alleges in the suit that the $1 billion in revenue expected to be generated by the tolls “was earmarked in its entirety for projects not functionally related to the toll road.” Projects cited by OOIDA included expanding broadband access to rural areas in the state, accelerating the completion of I-69, adding new interchanges on U.S. 31, adding more flights from Indianapolis’ airport and building hiking and biking trails.

Rachel Hoffmeyer, press secretary for Holcomb, said the governor’s office refutes OOIDA’s claims that the tolls are constitutional and that the state will “vigorously defend” against the lawsuit. The Indiana Finance Authority echoed the statement from the governor’s office.

“The constitutionality of the transaction was reviewed by independent counsel prior to the transaction,” IFA said in a statement. “We do not believe there is any issue of constitutionality regarding the transaction. We will vigorously defend the lawsuit. Because the matter is now in litigation, we will make our arguments to the courts.”

In addition to Holcomb, OOIDA’s suit takes aim at the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, the Indiana Finance Authority and Indiana DOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness.

The toll increase on I-90 and combined I-80 across Indiana brought tolls on Class 8 trucks traveling across the entirety of the state from $44.50 to $60.07 with cash, or from $44.46 to $60.02 with E-ZPass. The Indiana Toll Road spans about 157 miles between the Ohio Turnpike and Chicago Skyway.

“The governor has admitted publicly that the increased tolls on truckers were intended for out-of-state users,” said Todd Spencer, president of OOIDA. “He seems to think that, in his own words, ‘capturing other people’s money’ is OK. He would be very wrong about that. Truckers are not rolling piggy banks.”