Trucking group sues Indiana over toll road rate hike

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A national organization of owner-operator truck drivers is suing Indiana over the recent rate hike on the Indiana Toll Road.

The 35-percent increase took effect in October. Gov. Eric Holcomb's administration negotiated the deal in exchange for a $1 billion windfall to invest in state infrastructure.

The 160,000-member Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit in the Federal District Court of Indianapolis against the Indiana Finance Authority, Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, the Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation and Gov. Holcomb. They claim the rate hike "is burdensome, discriminatory and violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution."

"We do not believe there is any issue of constitutionality regarding the transaction," said Rachel Hoffmeyer, Gov. Holcomb's press secretary, in a statement to WTHR.com. "We will vigorously defend the lawsuit."

When Holcomb first announced the rate hike in September, he said that despite the increase, "our tolling structure here in the state of Indiana is well below market rate, and will remain so even after this increase."

OOIDA also criticized the governor for using the funds for programs "that have no functional relationship to the Indiana Toll Road."

The $1 billion is slated to be spread across multiple projects:

  • $600 million to speed up completion of Interstate 69
  • $190 million for projects on U.S. Routes 20, 30 and 31, where new interchanges will be added to reduce the number of traffic lights between Indianapolis and South Bend
  • $100 million to boost rural broadband access
  • $20 million to lure new direct flight routes to the state's airports
  • $90 million for improving hiking and biking trails

"The governor has admitted publicly that the increased tolls on truckers were intended for out-of-state users,” OOIDA president Todd Spencer said in a statement. “He seems to think that, in his own words, ‘capturing other people’s money’ is okay. He would be very wrong about that. Truckers are not rolling piggy banks.”

OOIDA asked for an injunction to immediately stop toll collections at the new, higher rate, and for drivers to be reimbursed for the additional tolls already collected.

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