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Indiana’s $1B infrastructure plan funded by truck tolls

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced in Sept. plans to add $1 billion to the infrastructure program across the state that would expand broadband services in rural areas, building a new water port, expand rail projects, create more nonstop international flights, and move up major highway projects. The money for these projects would be raised by increasing tolls on heavy-duty commercial trucks on the Indiana Toll Road.

The governor’s infrastructure plan has been named the “Next Level Connections”. To fund the new plan, Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, the company who operates the toll road, will increase tolls on vehicles with three or more axles 35 percent more and pay the state $1 billion in three installments over the next couple years.

Trucking groups are opposed to the plan that puts the burden of fundraising entirely on the trucking industry. Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a letter to Gov. Holcomb in opposition and refute the claim that more tolls can solve the infrastructure issues in the state.

“Despite your absurd and unsubstantiated claim that trucks do '10,000 times' more damage to roads and your suggestion that truckers are 'lucky' they aren’t being charged 10,000 times more than cars, we would remind you that truckers already pay more than their fair-share in state and federal taxes,” said OOIDA president Todd Spencer in his letter. “As much as the government likes to treat them as such, they are not rolling piggy banks.”

The Indiana Motor Truck Association has also voiced their opposition to the plan. Gary Langston, president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association, said that the high cost of doing business in Indiana, between the increase in tolls and fuel taxes that were enacted last year, will likely be passed on to customers.

Democrats in Indiana also criticized the governor’s proposal, arguing that it lacked transparency and included too many unknowns.

“We have no idea of the effect this 35-percent increase in tolls for heavy vehicles will have on industries within the toll road corridor or upon the employees who work for them,” said Dem. Sen. David Niezgodski, whose district includes a chunk of the toll road around South Bend. “Legislators and industry officials were supposed to study this issue thoroughly and weren’t given that opportunity.”

The board of the Indiana Finance Authority unanimously approved the plan despite its criticisms, and the new tolls went into effect on Oct. 5.

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