Hoosiers try to decide if adding tolls can keep roads ready

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH)–INDOT is studying whether it’s a good idea to add more toll booths on Indiana interstates.

The department launched their initial study in May and INDOT plans to complete it by early November. 

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a road funding bill in the spring and part of the bill required INDOT to study longterm funding options. 

The added tolls are just an idea in the early stages. An INDOT spokesman said the department does not currently have any plans on where the tolls could be or what the fees could be. 

Indiana’s only toll booths are more than 100 miles south and north of Indianapolis. Downtown commuter Jeremy Garcia wants to keep it that way. 

“That is actually one thing I like about Indiana,” Garcia said. “I just get frustrated basically any time I see a toll road.” 

INDOT spokesman Scott Manning said the state already has a plan to maintain roads and bridges for the next 20 years. But the bulk of INDOT’s funding comes from gas tax revenue, and the auto industry is driving away from gas. 

“What we’re looking at is the longterm picture,” Manning said. “As cars become more fuel efficient and that gas tax revenue falls away, if tolling is a longterm funding option, maybe there’s an opportunity to dial back another funding source.” 

Manning said INDOT will complete their initial feasibility study by November 1st. The department also plans to hire a contractor to come up with a strategic plan. INDOT will start hearing proposals for the plan next week. 

 “All the stakeholders involved are trying to determine, does this make sense? Is it worth pursuing further?” Manning said. 

 Nathan Ehman is a northsider who drives through the city every day. He said, if it funds the roads, a toll would be worth it. 

“We’re a fairly low traffic city,” Ehman said. “So I think adding a toll booth in a couple places maybe on the dial wouldn’t kill us.” 

Manning said the state does not have a deadline on when to decide whether to introduce more tolls.