Holcomb says he won’t pursue plan to toll interstate highways

Gov. Eric Holcomb said he won't ask legislators to include a plan to toll Indiana’s interstate highways when they decide the state's next two-year budget.

Holcomb announced his decision Thursday afternoon after the Indiana Department of Transportation released a strategic plan for interstate tolling that was mandated by a transportation infrastructure law passed in 2017.

“While I do not intend to move forward with the plan, there may be good reasons to revisit this report in the future,” Holcomb wrote in a letter to State Budget Committee members.

Holcomb’s administration was required to study the idea and submit a strategic plan for tolling the interstate highways under the road-funding bill the Indiana General Assembly approved in 2017. That plan was due Dec. 1.

Holcomb called the 36-page strategy developed by the Indiana Department of Transportation a "how-to manual to implement such a plan" if legislators choose to in future years.

The governor said pursuing the strategy was not necessary now because it already has billion of dollars available for road and bridge improvements.

"Our Next Level Connections agreement, finalized in October, provides nearly $800 million more for road construction and maintenance over the coming years," he said. "Indiana has more road construction under way now than ever before."

Holcomb’s decision will likely be a popular one among Hoosiers. According to the latest Hoosier Survey from Ball State University, 75 percent of respondents were opposed to the idea of charging tolls on interstate highways.

And the idea is unpopular among both Democrats and Republicans—73 percent of Democrats oppose tolling and 76 percent of Republicans oppose it.

Holcomb is not ruling out the possibility of tolling highways in the future though.

“I have directed INDOT to continue to assess all funding options and other mobility improvements that would modernize our interstate highways, including participation in federal programs that enable us to preserve the option for interstate tolling capability in the future,” Holcomb said in the letter.

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