Monday, October 23, 2017

Indiana Considering Following Up Large Gas Tax Increase With Tolls

In the highway bill last year passed by the Indiana legislature this Spring, the focus was on the substantial increase in the gas tax which supporters urged was needed to fund road improvements.  Unfortunately what didn't get sufficient publicity at the time was another provision of the bill that gives the Governor unfettered power to establish tolls on Indiana interstates.  On the few occasions the tolling provision was discussed, it was emphasized that it was merely a funding option for some governor well into the future.

That future didn't take long to get here.  The Indianapolis Star reports that there is already talk of tolling Indiana interstates, including possibly I-465.

The state hasn't decided yet whether it wants to put tolls on its interstates, but if Indiana does, it will look first at the most congested routes where tolls could help pay for needed improvements such as extra lanes.
The state is seeking a firm to study tolling on specific legs of I-65, I-70 and I-94, according to a request for proposal issued by the Indiana Department of Transportation. The department also wants to take a closer look at I-465, not ruling out tolls for commuters in the Indianapolis area. 
"No decisions have been made on whether to do tolling at all, let alone on a given route," said Scott Manning, strategic communications director for INDOT. "We're calling those (routes) out because we know there are significant needs there we'd want to address."
A feasibility study is underway, Manning said, that will answer the big question of whether additional tolling makes sense for the state. If it does, Manning said, the strategic plan INDOT is advertising for now would start to look at how the state could implement tolls.
Although most polls should tolls are unpopular, they do have supporters.  Typically toll supporters like to point out that tolls are pure "user fees."  It is not an argument I find persuasive.  Everyone benefits from good roads, so I don't see the need to fund road with "fees" paid only by those who traverse on roads.  Nonetheless, the gas tax is already a user fee. 

A few years ago I drove a car from New York to Florida.  I recall it cost me about $20 to drive from Long Island to New Jersey, not counting the bridges. Crossing one bridge into Staten Island cost me $17.  

While toll proponents will gush at that sort of revenue, what tolls do is cause people to change their driving behavior.  People opt to travel on secondary roads rather than pay tolls.  These secondary roads are often in rural areas.  These residents have to deal with increased traffic in their neighborhoods, which also leads to declining property values.  People don't like to live on busy roads.

Hopefully Indiana officials will shelve this really bad idea.


True Republican said...


Glad to see you blogging on local issues again. We have been killing ourselves trying to cover local issues! Hope you cover some more local issues. This whole power grab reeks of “Bagman” Holcomb! We all have written about Holcomb’s evil ways at Indy Republican.

Here is a link to all of our articles on Holcomb:

Veterans for Peace Indianapolis said...

I formerly lived in one party ruled Oregon and observed road construction took an extremely long time, because unions and environmentalists controlled.

In one party Indiana, I have observed roads get built quickly, yet seem to be designed just under need, requiring a fairly soon rebuild. I assume that is because the contractors are in charge here. Correct?

True Republican said...

You would be right VPI. Also the lawmakers don’t think anything through.