Indiana lawmakers want to add tolls to more highways
INDOT is working on a study that could affect your travel plans.
State lawmakers want to add tolls to more highways.
Interstate 80-90 generates a lot of revenue. The company that leases the road paid the state $4 billion. That money was used for infrastructure improvements all over the state.
Northern Indiana drivers have been paying at these booths for decades. Now they say it's time for southern drivers to chip in too.
"We've been supportive of the concept of additional tolling in Indiana," said Jeff Rea, president/CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce. "We haven't thought it's fair that only northern Indiana gets the opportunity to pay tolls."
But fairness isn't the only motivation for research on tolling.
"As the state's trying to figure out how to fund infrastructure long term, gas tax just doesn't fund it at enough of a level to do everything that's needed," said Rea.
Senator Ryan Mishler says gas tax increases in recent years were only designed to last for seven years.
"At the end of seven years, if you don't have tolling to maintain a long-term funding stream, you'll have a gap," said Mishler.
State lawmakers tried to toll I-69 south, but were met with outrage.
"Tolling isn't very popular," said Rea. "People don't like the idea of having to pay to drive on the road."
But Mishler says Hoosiers won't bear the full burden.
"Tolling is the best way to get people that are not from Indiana that are driving through Indiana, using our roads," said Mishler. "We don't want Indiana residents to pay the burden of the entire road funding plan."
INDOT is looking at all the highways in the state, but state leaders are looking at I-65 and I-70.
"It's a very narrow stretch of Indiana and people don't even have to stop in Indiana," said Rea. "So there's a lot of thru-traffic that would sort of get the benefit of maintaining that road but never give anything in return."
Mishler says if we're going to avoid a fiscal cliff in road funding, he and other lawmakers need to act fast.
"I'd like to see tolling in place in five years."
Rea says part of the reason gas taxes aren't as effective anymore is because cars are more fuel-efficient.
Drivers don't need to fill up as often so they don't pay the tax as often.