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Counties Finalizing Bid To Buy Indiana Toll Road

Ken Lund

The Indiana Toll Road could become a government-run road again for the first time in nine years.

The operating company formed by the Spanish-Australian consortium which leased the Toll Road emerged from bankruptcy last year with a plan to sell the lease.

Lake and LaPorte Counties, through which the road runs, plan to submit a cooperative bid to buy it.

The state concluded under then-Governor Mitch Daniels the road couldn‘t possibly pay for itself, and I-T-R Concession Company has now concluded it can‘t make enough money to make the road worthwhile.

But LaPorte County Commissioners president Dave Decker says a study calculates the road brings in about $40-million a year more than it costs to maintain.

He says ITR was undone by the weight of its debt load.

"We consider that our Toll Road," says Decker. "We think that it can be managed better by a government entity rather than a private entity because we aren't worried about shareholders and things like this."

The five other counties the road passes through declined an invitation to join in the bid.

LaGrange County Commissioners president Jac Price says there were too many unanswered questions about the governing board the two counties plan to set up.

And he says it‘s not clear that the counties‘ initial investment will be all they‘re required to sink into the road.

Bids are due in two weeks. It‘s not known whether or how many private companies will bid.

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