Two counties continue effort to lease Indiana Toll Road

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Two northern Indiana counties plan to form a board of directors that would enable them to proceed with their bid to lease the bankrupt Indiana Toll Road.

Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen told a Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission committee that his county along with LaPorte County are preparing to finalize their offer, The Times of Munster reported.

Investment bank Piper Jaffray & Co. of Minneapolis delivered a report in November to LaPorte County that demonstrated toll road cash flow could support a public entity bid by producing $38 million to $53 million a year after operating and maintenance expenses.

At a hearing in federal bankruptcy court last month, lawyers for the toll road's bankrupt operator said many parties are interested in bidding for the road.

Several other counties along the toll road, including St. Joseph, Elkhart and LaGrange, have rejected joining a consortium of counties that would try to lease the road.

ITR Concession Co., the operator of the Indiana Toll Road, paid the state $3.8 billion in 2006 for a 75-year operating lease of the road. In October, the company won court approval of a plan to exit bankruptcy protection.

Open since 1956, the Indiana Toll Road spans 157 miles across northern Indiana, connecting Chicago to major East Coast traffic arteries.

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