Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's recent announcement that he wouldn't seek additional tolling in Indiana was seen as positive news by those who believe such fees could begin to erode the state's competitive advantages as a transportation hub.
But others — especially those who live or work near the Indiana Toll Road — questioned why it's OK to significantly boost rates for trucks along the Toll Road while eliminating the possibility of such fees for others in the state.
"Tolling is apparently a bad idea, except for northern Indiana," said State Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend. "If you put them throughout the state, you won't win elections."
Dvorak and other Democrats in northern Indiana were still smarting from the governor's announcement in September that he had come to an agreement with the private operator of the Toll Road to allow a 35 percent hike in tolls in exchange for $1 billion earmarked for state infrastructure improvements over the next several years.
Although the governor was not available on Friday, an administration spokesperson said the operator approached the state with the deal and that northern Indiana gets a fair share of infrastructure spending. In fact, the Indiana Department of Transportation spent $215 million on projects in Toll Road communities in 2018, according to the state.
But the problem with that viewpoint is that the toll money is being distributed around the state while only the Toll Road communities have to deal with the problems associated with the higher tolls on the highway, said Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage.