Advocates For Indiana Truck-Only Toll Increases Are Firing Back

You have probably heard by now, otherwise you most likely wouldn’t be reading this article; but Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced on September 4th, a grand deal with the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company (ITRCC) to raise truck-only tolls a hefty 35% along the 157-mile stretch on I-90. Under the new plan, only Class 3 and larger vehicles will be impacted.

Trucking Interest Groups Sound Off On “Trucker Tax”

Well, the response from many in the trucking community about the truck-only toll rate increases was swift and severe. Let’s remind you of a bit of it. “The administration likes to make people think that as long as it’s only on trucks no one else will be impacted when really that’s actually not the case,” said Gary Langston, the President of the Indiana Motor Truck Association. “The top semi-truck configuration, which is probably a triples-combination, will probably cost more than $100 now to go from one end of the toll road to the other… In that configuration, that is a 30-to-40-dollar increase,” Langston said. “The other problem with this plan is that there are hundred of millions of dollars in this plan that are going places that are in no way associated with the roads… They are going to towards hiking and biking trails and things like that,” he continued.

 

 

The Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) has expressed their discontent with what they are calling a new “tax” on truckers. Governor Holcomb responded to critic’s concerns about imposing a new tax on truckers in an interview with WIBC-FM, “I would take a little bit of an exception with your premise there that we did the deal to tax truckers, we didn’t,” he said. Further, he justified the truck-only toll road rate increases by pointing to data which shows Indiana’s toll rates are well below rates in other states, including toll rates in Illinois and Pennsylvania. Holcomb also referenced studies that suggest five-axle trucks do 10,000 times more wear and tear on a road than a passenger car. “Obviously we don’t charge 10,000 times more for a five-axle truck compared to a car,” Holcomb said. Still, OOIDA and others are not convinced. OOIDA is calling for a trucker boycott of the toll road.

Advocates Are Firing Back

Advocates for the toll road rate increases are starting to make some noise and push back now. Abdul Hakim-Shabazz has been covering Indiana politics as a writer/journalist for more than 15 years and is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.org. In a recently published article for WIBC.com he is firing back at the critics. He writes, “I hate to be the bearer on non-fake news, but as usual, the critics get it wrong, either by default or by design.” He argues, “If I’m a truck driver with a four-axle vehicle traveling from one end of the toll road to the other, it currently costs me  $34.04.  That’s about 156 miles or 21 cents per mile.  Under the new pricing structure, that same vehicle would have to pay $45.96 or 29 cents a mile.  I never thought eight cents per mile could cause such consternation,” he surmises.

His piece also alleges some critics may be disingenuous in their arguments that the revenue raised from these new increases will be spent elsewhere. He writes,  “The increase in the tolls cannot be used to pay for anything other than the toll road. That’s the law. So any talk that this increase is paying for rural broadband, trails, road construction, port improvements, and better transit in northwest Indiana is once again, wrong.”

However, when we reviewed Hakim-Shabazz’s personal Twitter account, we found some tweets he re-tweeted that seem to contradict his assertion that the money generated from the truck-only tolls will not go toward other projects.

Continuing on in his opinion editorial, he goes so far as to almost chide the critics of Governor Holcomb’s infrastructure plan when he writes, “Some of these same people who are complaining about these increases in tolls for trucks (who by the way I don’t recall this outrage when the cost of the EZ-Pass to use the toll road increased from $4.65 to $10.52 back in June 2017), are the same people who complained about an increase in the gas tax which was necessary to make badly needed improvements to Indiana’s infrastructure. When they were asked to provide an alternative source or method of funding, all us rational people heard was, well we really didn’t hear much of anything,” he taunted.

HERE you can read his entire piece entitled For Whom The Road Tolls, but it is clear the lines are drawn in this debate and it surely won’t be letting up any time soon. The toll road increases are set to go into effect October 5th.

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