Indiana House Committee to weigh in on public-private partnership bill

Measure was approved by Senate and would give the governor power to allow more tolling

News Evansville Courier & Press April 05, 2011
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The governor of Indiana may have the power to create toll roads in the future.
Currently, it requires approval by the state legislature, but Senate Bill 473, which passed by a 37-12 count back in February, would give the state’s top politician the ability to set up more public-private partnerships, which in turn would create more tolling. The bill is slated for a hearing on April 6 in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

“I cannot understand why any elected official would willingly choose to turn this authority over to one person, with very little chance for oversight,” Indiana Rep. Gail Riecken (D-Evansville) told the Evansville Courier & Press.

One road project that could benefit the most if the measure becomes law is the I-69 extension from Indianapolis to Evansville. Back in 2006, Indiana lawmakers allowed Gov. Mitch Daniels to lease a section of the Indiana Toll Road for $3.8 billion. A portion of that taking—$700 million—was used to pay for the first three of six construction phases of the extension, and the fourth has been financed by the state’s overall transportation plan. Currently there is no funding for the final two sections. However, if Indiana wanted to toll I-69 it would have to receive approval from the Federal Highway Administration.

“The guidance [from the FHWA] thus far is that to do something like that would require significant upgrades to that existing road to make that possible,” Will Wingfield, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation, told the Evansville Courier & Press.

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