The Indiana House approved by a 52-47 vote on Feb. 1 the Major Moves legislation backed by Republican Governor Mitch Daniels. If approved by the Senate, the law will allow the governor to lease the Indiana Toll Road crossing the northern part of the state to a private company that would raise tolls on the 157-mile toll road, called the "Main Street of the Midwest," that carries Interstates 94 and 80.
A Spanish-Australian consortium, Macquarie/Cintra, has already been selected to lease the toll road for 75 years for an initial payment of $3.85 billion and keep future tolls, estimated at $133 billion over the term of the lease. The company would be responsible for maintenance, improvements and other operating costs. Indiana would use the initial payment to invest in road projects around the state.
State Senator and President Pro Tempore Robert Garton said it is likely to pass in the Senate. House Democrats say they prefer a bond issue that could raise $2 billion without relinquishing control of the highway.
The proposal gained the support of the Indiana Motor Truck Association after the Governor offered the compromise of phasing the increased tolls in over a four-year period with equal increments. But the Owner-Operator Independent Driver's Association came out on the other side of the issue and asked its Indiana members to lobby the Indiana legislature and administration against the legislation.
The plan to phase in higher tolls for heavy trucks will first raise the toll from $14.55 to $18. Next year, that amount will go up to $22.50, then to $27.25 in 2008 and $32 in 2009. In addition, the concessionaire is allowed to increase tolls annually up to the rate of inflation.