Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Report: Truck-only lanes may be next for Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Dedicated truck lanes on Interstate 70 could be introduced if the Legislature approves a bill giving the governor sole authority over new toll roads, a key lawmaker said.

“What about truck-only lanes? That’s a possibility,” said state Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, who is sponsoring the bill.

The idea isn’t entirely new, the Indianapolis Business Journal reported. Indiana is one of four states already studying the concept of adding dedicated truck lanes to I-70. In 2007, the U.S. Department of Transportation provided a $5 million grant to Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Ohio to study adding truck lanes to the 800 miles of I-70 crossing the four states.

Semitrailers would use dedicated lanes that could be built alongside existing I-70 lanes or in the median. The concept would improve safety by separating cars and trucks, the report said. And the plan could also ease congestion on the main artery, which is often clogged with semis.

Logistics firms might benefit if additional trailers and dedicated truck connections from the interstate to airports could be included in the plan, the newspaper said.

But cost is a downside. The report said the cost of building the truck lanes in Indiana, Illinoi, Missouri and Ohio is estimated at $14.5 billion. Using tolls under a public-private agreement could cut the public investment in half, the Indiana Department of Transportation said.

Gov. Mitch Daniels’ spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said there are no specific road projects in mind for the toll road bill — but it would “put in place the ability to move forward more quickly if there is an idea for a public infrastructure project that comes forward.”

The bill would allow the governor and the Indiana Department of Transportation or the Indiana Financing Authority to create or convert existing highways to toll roads through public-private partnerships without legislative approval. A version of the bill that would give the governor that authority through 2015 has cleared the Senate, while another version without the deadline was passed by a House committee.

Opponents say the bill would allow the governor to build toll roads over public opposition.



Posted 4/11/2011




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