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
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