Study: Road tolls could generate billions for Indiana

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Are people in Fort Wayne willing to pay more than 4 dollars in toll fees for a trip down to Indianapolis? That could become a reality if the state pushes through with a statewide tolling program.

An Indiana Department of Transportation feasibility study released yesterday reports the state could see between $39 billion and $53 billion in toll revenue from 2021 to 2050. Six major highways would generate revenue. I-69 alone could bring in up to 11 billion dollars.

“The report is not a recommendation of whether to toll,” said INDOT spokesperson, Scott Manning. “It’s not an endorsement in anyway, but I think the indicators that were studied show that this is a worthwhile discussion.”

With a statewide tolling program, potential toll rates range from 4 cents per mile to 19 cents depending on the vehicle.

The cost to travel from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis on I-69 would cost $4.20. Even with the highest costs on toll roads exceeding seven dollars, Manning says the fees may be worth it.

“The question that will be in front of the state and in front of Hoosiers in the next 15, 20, 30 years is, ‘If we want to continue to drive on good roads and we want to be able to pursue projects like adding lanes to interstates or making interstates safer or easier to travel and more convenient for motorists and more convenient for freight travel, what are the revenue sources that we’re willing to consider to fund those maintenance and construction needs?” Manning asked.

The state has traditionally depended on fuel tax revenue for highway maintenance and construction. Just four months ago, the state gas tax bumped up 10 cents. Manning says we won’t be able to rely on that revenue for much longer.

“Cars have in the last 10 years or so have become increasingly fuel efficient and with technology and efficiency standards that are on the horizon, we expect them to become even more fuel efficient,” he said.

Manning said all numbers in the study were general and for data purposes only. If a statewide tolling program is developed, each route would examined individually to determine rates.

The governor, state budget committee, and legislative council will now take a look at the study. The tolling program approved by both the governor and the federal government.