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Study: Road Tolls Could Generate Billions For Indiana

Some legislators want to pay for infrastructure improvements with tolling.

A study created for the Indiana Department of Transportation, on how much money tolling would generate for the state, ignores current toll restrictions in state law.

The study found that there is an 85 percent chance toll revenue would exceed $39 billion from 2021 to 2050, if a statewide Interstate tolling program were implemented.

Potential toll rates ranged from 4 cents per mile for automobiles to 19 cents per mile for heavy trucks.

A law passed this year requires the highway department to perform feasibility studies and seek approval from the Federal Highway Administration for charging tolls on the interstate routes.

But in the same state statute that required the study, lawmakers mandated new toll lanes on an interstate highway must be at least 75 miles from an interstate highway or bridge already subject to tolling. The study did not take this into account.

INDOT spokesperson Scott Manning says this was intentional.

“It doesn’t drill down into specific segments of routes,” Manning says. “And it doesn’t go to that level of detail, because that is an area that would be addressed at a later point in the decision-making process.”

The revenue estimates also don’t take into account the cost of installing and maintaining equipment.

The study, done by an outside consulting firm, was provided this week to the governor, the budget committee and the legislative council.

If INDOT wants to move forward with a tolling plan, it needs to deliver a strategic plan to the state budget committee by December 2018. The proposed program would then have to be approved by the governor and the federal government.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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