Did Indiana learn a lesson from 1988?

December 2018/January 2019

Land Line Staff

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OOIDA’s current President Todd Spencer says a plan that skips due diligence and fails to consider how state actions and policies affect working people is always doomed to do harm.

“Left to their own devices, states can come up with some pretty outrageous plans,” Spencer said.

“Take, for another example, how then-Gov. Mitch Daniels leased the Indiana Toll Road in 2006 to a foreign consortium for $3.85 billion. OOIDA is strongly opposed to converting U.S. freeways to foreign-owned toll roads.”

That consortium went bankrupt in 2014 and another foreign company – the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. – bought the business, which included the lease. Earlier this year, the Indiana Finance Authority approved a deal to allow the ITR Concession Co. to deploy a truck-only 35 percent increase.

Without delay and with very little notice, Indiana’s truck-only toll increase went into effect on Friday, Oct. 5. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said it is not a tax on truckers. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says, “that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

Effective Oct. 5, only Class 3 (three-axle) and above vehicles will see tolls increase by 35 percent. Tolls for the entire 157-mile trip along I-90 for a Class 5 (five-axle) truck will increase from $44.46 to $60.02. Annual increases will continue as planned in the original agreement.

On Sept. 4, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his infrastructure plan for 2019 called the Next Level Connections program. In order to pay for the program, the Indiana Finance Authority amended its agreement with the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. to allow the company to increase tolls on heavy vehicles by 35 percent. IFA approved the amendment on Sept. 20, giving the public and stakeholders no opportunity to review the agreement.

The toll increase comes despite sharp criticism from OOIDA and the Indiana Motor Truck Association.

Justifying the truck toll-rate increase, Holcomb mentioned that Indiana’s toll rates are well below rates in other states, including toll rates in Illinois and Pennsylvania. When questioned about the economic impact of higher shipping rates, Holcomb retreated to that rate, stating “We are still well below market rate.”

In an attempt to further justify of the move, Holcomb referenced studies that suggest five-axle trucks do 10,000 times more wear and tear on a road than a passenger car.

“Obviously we don’t charge 10,000 times more for a five-axle truck compared to a car,” Holcomb said.

OOIDA dismissed Holcomb’s claim that this is not a tax on trucks, stating in a letter to members “that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

Regarding the claims of 10,000 times the wear and tear, OOIDA said “his position on this issue is mindboggling, to say the least, and it’s clear that he doesn’t really care about how this will impact small-business truckers.”

OOIDA has called for truckers to boycott the Indiana Toll Road. LL