Foreign Consortium Bids on Indiana Toll Road Operation
Indiana’s Governor Mitch Daniels has reviewed bids to operate the Indiana Toll Road for the next 75 years, with a Spanish-Australian consortium emerging as the frontrunner with a $3.8 billion offer from Cintra of Madrid, Spain, and Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Sydney, Australia.
The governor says the money would be used for various transportation projects in the state including extending Interstate 69 from Indianapolis to Evansville with this section, too, being a privately-owned toll road.
The House-approved effort would authorize an economic development authority in Elkhart, LaGrange and Steuben counties and provide $100 million in lease proceeds to the counties in the next decade, according to the Associated Press.
That revenue could come from an up front payment of $3.85 billion that Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Sydney, Australia, and the Cintra firm, based in Madrid, Spain, has bid to lease the toll road for 75 years. The bid needs approval from the states Legislature to be completed.
In the next decade, supporters said the lease would cover a gap of $2.8 billion needed for road and bridgework throughout the state, as well as pay for an extension of Interstate 69 from Indianapolis to Evansville and make it a private toll road.
A private lease would include a noncompete clause barring the state from building a new east-west highway 10 miles north or south of the toll road. And the state would have to compensate the toll road operator if it built more than 20 miles of east-west highway within the buffer zone.
While lawmakers discuss privatization, plans are to go ahead and increase tolls along the toll road by 72% for cars and 120% for large trucks by 2009.
The rate for tractor-trailers traveling from the Illinois line to Ohio will rise from $14.55 to $18 this year. The rate would climb to $22.50 in 2007, $27.25, in 2008 and $32 in 2009.
Passenger vehicle rates for driving the same distance would rise from $4.65 to $8 this year. No other increases are planned until 2011, when car and truck tolls would be pegged to inflationary indexes.
The fare increases, which could take effect as early as April, could generate an additional $770 million in 10 years.
State officials are relying on in-state and out-of-state vehicles in their toll revenue projections. Indiana Department of Transportation figures show that 66% of 2004 toll road revenue came from out-of-state vehicles, 18% from in-state cars and 16% from in-state truck traffic.