Gov.: Study done, but no tolls on interstates
A new proposal could put tolls on Indiana’s interstates, but the governor already has put the brakes on the idea.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb released a study Thursday that explored tolling Interstate 65, Interstate 94 and Interstate 70 and levying a roughly 7-cent-permile charge, but he made it clear his administration would not implement the proposal.
“This is great news,” Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said.
Holcomb said, in a letter to the legislature, the state is investing already in its infrastructure, and his plan for 2019 intends to leverage an additional $800 mil-
lion for road construction and maintenance.
“I will not move forward with a plan to toll Indiana’s interstate highways,” but he still wanted to present the study should the state opt to move forward in the future, Holcomb said.
“While I do not intend to move forward with the plan, there may be good reasons to revisit this report in the future,” Holcomb wrote. “In the least, I do not want to foreclose a successor from considering tolling as an option for infrastructure improvements.”
The state considered tolling I-65, I-94 and I-70 because those have the highest traffic volumes, according to the study.
The tolling was envisioned by the legislature as a way to fund improvements on the interstates, including widening portions to six lanes, according to the plan. The Indiana Department of Transportation estimated the improvements would cost upward of $4 billion, according to the study.
The proposed tolling plan would have added a 7-cent charge to motorists traveling on I-94 and I-65, according to documents sent to the legislature. That would have meant going from Illinois to Michigan on I-94 would cost $3.15, ac- cording to the proposal, and a trip from Gary to Indianapolis would cost $10.57 one way.
Freeman-Wilson said she’ll be going to Indianap- olis for meetings this week, and had tolling been in place, the trip would have cost her around $40.
People from Northwest Indiana travel I-65 to access state government and services or to get health care services, Freeman-Wilson said, and the tolls would add to the cost of gas. She said some people don’t often have the discretionary income to absorb high toll costs.
“Why be greedy?” Freeman-Wilson asked. The state has a surplus and a charge on heavy equipment, she said.
“It just creates a hardship,” Freeman-Wilson said.
The tolling study was commissioned as a part of the legislature’s 2017 infrastructure improvement bill.
The 2017 infrastructure funding legislation included a gas tax increase for highways and a local grant matching program. The tax was a 10-cent increase per gallon.
While Holcomb’s announcement is good news for now, Freeman-Wilson said she’ll remain cautious given that future leadership could pull the proposal off the shelf.
In 2025, state leaders could look at the numbers in the study and see it as a way to deal with changes in revenue, Freeman-Wilson said.
“It left the door open,” Freeman-Wilson said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb released a study Thursday that explored tolling Interstate 65, above, Interstate 94 and Interstate 70.