INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The board of the Indiana Finance Authority unanimously approved a new deal
Thursday with the vendor operating the Indiana Toll Road, allowing
35-percent fee increases for large trucks as part of Republican Gov. Eric
Holcomb’s plan to pump an additional $1 billion into infrastructure projects
around the state.
The rate hike takes
effect Oct. 5 and the state would receive $400 million that same day from
the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. The rate increase applies to vehicles
with three or more axles.
receive a total of $1 billion over three years. Indiana Public Finance
Director Dan Huge told the board the new deal comes with a letter of credit,
meaning banks have guaranteed Indiana will receive its future payments.
Holcomb did not
attend the meeting. He was on a trade mission to Italy on Thursday.
plan Holcomb announced earlier this month would earmark $600 million to
speed up completion of the Interstate 69 extension in southern Indiana; $190
million for projects on U.S. Routes 20, 30 and 31; $100 million to boost
rural broadband access; $90 million for improving hiking and biking trails;
and $20 million to lure new direct flight routes to the state’s airports.
Democrats say the
new Toll Road rates amount to a tax increase for the trucking industry, but
Holcomb has stressed that the new fees won’t apply to passenger cars and
would bring Indiana in line with what nearby states charge.
industry also has criticized the rate increases. Gary Langston, president of
the Indiana Motor Truck Association, told the South Bend Tribune that they
follow a large increase in state fuel taxes that went into effect last year.
The combination of higher tolls and fuel taxes on truckers will ultimately
hurt consumers and businesses since nearly all products travel to Indiana
via trucks, Langston said.
predicted trucks will bypass the Toll Road, resulting in more congestion on
toll-free highways and the possibility of more accidents.