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home : most recent : statewide implications July 19, 2018

11/2/2017 11:38:00 AM
Study: Conversion of 6 interstates to toll roads could raise up to $53 billion

Scott L. Miley, Tribune-Star CNHI Statehouse Bureau

INDIANAPOLIS -- By converting six Indiana interstates into toll roads, there is an 85 percent chance that revenues would exceed $39 billion from 2021 to 2050, according to a feasibility study awaiting review by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

There’s a 50 percent chance a toll system would exceed $53 billion.

While I-65 would become the largest revenue generator — up to $16.2 billion — it could also see a 10 percent decrease in traffic along its 261-mile northwest-to-southeast route due to tolls.

The projected revenues are based on levels of confidence. So in the case of I-65, the $16.2 billion figure comes with 50 percent confidence level. Bumping it up to 85 percent, the toll revenue would be $12.1 billion.

A similar tolling system along I-69 could raise between $8.4 billion (85 percent chance) to $11 billion (50 percent chance). Under the same levels, tolls along the east-west I-70 could likewise produce $6.9 billion to $9.1 billion. Similarly, I-74 could bring in $3.2 billion to $4.2 billion.

Also included in the report is I-94 with revenue at $2.9 billion (85 percent) to $3.7 billion (50 percent). So is I-64 in southwest Indiana, where a 22 percent decrease in traffic would be anticipated due to tolling.

The estimates were prepared by HDR Inc. for the Indiana Department of Transportation, which was assigned to do the feasibility study by the Indiana General Assembly this past session. HDR was to examine the feasibility of tolling six Indiana interstates. The study follows Holcomb’s earlier recommendation that it not include I-465 or similar loops around cities.

The report has also been sent to the state budget committee and legislative council, said Scott Manning, spokesman for INDOT.

There is no deadline to make a decision on the study, but if action is taken, INDOT must deliver a strategic plan for implementation to the budget committee by Dec. 1, 2018.

The report notes that while fuel consumption is expected to decrease, traffic on roadways is expected to increase.

“A potential statewide tolling program could help Indiana prepare for the expected decrease in fuel consumption by trying transportation funding to the amount of travel on Indiana’s highways,” the report finds.

The report also finds that the toll program could positively impact Indiana’s economy: “Tolling paired with widening I-65 and I-70 and a decrease in fuel taxes over time could increase Indiana’s Gross State Product by almost $27 billion.”

The revenue predictions do not account for the costs of toll collections or insurance. However, INDOT would be encouraged to explore the use of electronic tolling so drivers would not need to stop or slow down.

The state would need to build about 370 devices that house cameras to capture transponders and license plates, costing about $1 million.

The analysis was based on an INDOT economic model assuming that passenger vehicles would pay 4 cents per mile; light/medium trucks would pay 6 cents per mile and heavy trucks 19 cents a mile.

Related Stories:
• Might I-70 be first test for new tolling?
• EDITORIAL: Interstate tolls well worth consideration

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