The Indiana Finance Authority on Thursday afternoon unanimously approved a plan to increase toll road fees by 35 percent for heavy vehicles.
The amendment to the state’s agreement with the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. allows the fee hike for Class 3 vehicles and above and requires the toll road company to pay the state a total of $1 billion and invest an additional $50 million in toll road improvements.
The fee increase goes into effect Oct. 5.
Class 3 vehicles includes most large trucks, trucks with trailers and semi-trailers. Passenger vehicles will not be affected by the increase.
Micah Vincent, director of the Indiana Office of Management and Budget, said the state never considered an increase in fees for passenger vehicles.
“There’s a different impact to roads in general as you move up the scale of the weight of vehicles,” Clark said. “So, as we thought through it, that was part of it.”
It’s unclear exactly how much the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. could earn from the fee increase. State officials have declined to provide that information, citing confidential negotiations.
The amendment did not require legislative approval, which surprised and frustrated some state lawmakers. The state initially approved the agreement to lease the roadway in 2006 in exchange for a $3.8 billion payment.
For Class 3 vehicles, which include larger trucks such as dump trucks, tolls will increase from $16.33 to $22.04 for the entire length of the seven-county roadway. For Class 4 vehicles, which include trucks with an attached trailer, the fee will rise from $34.04 to $45.96. For Class 5 vehicles, which includes many semitrailers, fees will increase from $44.46 to $60.02. The Class 6 hike will be from $52.11 to $70.35, and the Class 7 increase will be from $96.90 to $130.80.
State officials say the rates will still be among the lowest toll road fees in the country on a per-mile basis.
In exchange for the increase, the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. will make three payments to the state over the next three years—$400 million in early October this year, $300 million in October 2019 and $300 million in October 2020.
The company also will invest an additional $50 million to improve the toll road. That will bring its total investment in the roadway to $500 million by 2025. The additional funds are expected to be used to expand the intelligent transportation system, upgrade and expand truck parking, expand smart trucking parking and increase electric truck parking stations.
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the proposal earlier this month as part of his Next Level Connections initiative. He plans to use the $1 billion to expand broadband access, add more biking and hiking trails, improve roadways, attract more direct international flights and accelerate construction on the last leg of the Interstate 69 project.
The Indiana Motor Truck Association criticized the plan, saying higher fees would hurt the trucking industry in a state that considers itself the "Crossroads of America."