Traffic flows eastbound on I-80/90 Toll Road at the Ironwood Road bridge in South Bend. Fees could be going up soon for trucks. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
Traffic flows eastbound on I-80/90 Toll Road at the Ironwood Road bridge in South Bend. Fees could be going up soon for trucks. Staff photo by Robert Franklin
The Indiana Finance Authority is expected to act Thursday on a proposal that could result in about $1 billion in improvements to the state’s infrastructure over the next six years.

The money would come from a deal with the Indiana Toll Road, which would provide the money in exchange for permission to hike tolls by 35 percent on commercial trucks.

The operator of the Toll Road approached the state last year seeking a significant increase for all vehicles on the highway, and the two sides worked in secret over the past year crafting a deal, Gov. Eric Holcomb has said in media reports. 

The deal has been scrutinized by a third party to ensure it is the best deal possible for the state, the governor has explained.

But area legislators were largely stunned by the secret negotiations since the 156-mile roadway cuts through their territory and their constituents are most likely to be impacted by the price hike on trucking.

Holcomb has said most of the trucks using the Toll Road are pass-through users moving across the country and that the new rates are more in line with what other states are charging.

But South Bend Sen. David Niezgodski and Rep. Ryan Dvorak are concerned that the negotiations were conducted in private with no input from legislators, citizens or businesses near the highway. They were joined by fellow South Bend Rep. Pat Bauer in questioning the deal.

“It was a little disturbing, no doubt about it,” said Niezgodski. “I think it would have been a courtesy to at least provide some prior knowledge that it was in the works.”

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