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LaPorte County Floats Plan To Take Over Toll Road

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Jimmy Emerson
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https://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/

A Northern Indiana county wants to band together with surrounding communities and take back the Toll Road.

LaPorte County announced Wednesday they’re working to put a multi-county bid together for the Indiana Toll Road lease, after the current operator filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

LaPorte County officials are reaching out to the six other counties along the Indiana Toll Road, hoping to convince them to sponsor a not-for-profit corporation that would bid on the lease.

They’d manage the Toll Road, but would hire an experienced private company to operate the 157-mile stretch.

LaPorte County Attorney Shaw Friedman says they’d use non-recourse revenue bonds to finance the project.

"Now, non-recourse revenue bonds may be sponsored by the participating counties, but they’re sold by the not-for-profit in the municipal bond market and they’d be secured solely by toll road revenues, which means there are no county taxpayer funds at risk in the event of a default," says Friedman.

Investment Bank Firm Piper Jaffray compiled a report for LaPorte County officials, detailing the benefits of public ownership of the Toll Road.

Friedman says taking back control of the asset would result in millions of dollars in profits coming back to Indiana communities. 

"We’ve got, as you can imagine, some cash-starved counties along the toll road that could really use that excess cash for roads, bridges, highways," says Friedman.

He says they’ve already gotten commitments from a couple of counties, but will need more support before submitting a preliminary bid next week.

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