Indiana Toll Road rate increase hits Sunday

2012-06-27T13:00:00Z 2014-09-22T17:27:15Z Indiana Toll Road rate increase hits SundayBy Keith Benman, (219) 933-3326

Tolls for cars running the length of the Indiana Toll Road will go up 40 cents on Sunday and tolls on the Northwest Indiana barrier system will go up 10 cents at five toll booths and 20 cents at West Point.

Tolls at all toll booths for all vehicle classes will go up an average of 3.15 percent, according to ITR Concession Inc., the road's private operator.

However, motorists in cars and other two-axle vehicles using the Toll Road's I-Zoom or other E-ZPass transponders will continue to pay the same toll they have since ITR Concession leased the roadway from the state in 2006. That discount ends in 2016.

Under its lease agreement with the state, ITR Concession Co. can raise tolls each July 1 to the greater of 2 percent, the increase in the consumer price index or the increase in U.S. Gross Domestic Product. This year the highest of those was GDP at 3.15 percent.

The regular increases were written into the lease to avoid sudden, precipitous toll hikes, said ITR Concession spokeswoman Amber Kettring. The bulk of the money is used for road maintenance and improvements, such as the recently completed third lane expansion on its western portion, she said.

The full toll for cars and other two-axle vehicles running the length of the road will go up on Sunday to $9.40 from its current $9. The cost for a typical five-axle semi-trailer will go up to $37.40 from its current $36.20.

Last year, there was no increase at the barrier system in Northwest Indiana, because the increase in GDP was not enough to enable ITR Concession to increase tolls 10 cents, Kettring said. For practicality's sake, the company wants to make toll changes in 10 cent increments.

Combining last year's 2.95 percent increase in GDP with this year's 3.15 percent increase allowed ITR Concession to make the toll hikes on the barrier system.

Cars and other two-axle vehicles will now pay $1.70 at West Point, $1.30 at Calumet Avenue, $1 at Cline Avenue and 70 cents at the three barrier stations east of there.

The toll for cars taking the privately operated Chicago Skyway, which is taken by many barrier system users for the commute into Chicago, now stands at $3.50. That toll is scheduled for its next increase in January.

The investment consortium that established ITR Concession Company paid the state $3.8 billion for a 75-year lease of the Toll Road in 2006.

Tolls had not been raised on the Indiana Toll Road for more than 20 years when the state boosted the tolls in early 2006, just before the lease with ITR Concession went into effect. That increase shot the toll for a car running the length of the road to $8 from $4.65.

Gov. Mitch Daniels also struck a deal with legislators that kept tolls for cars with I-Zoom and other E-ZPass transponders at the pre-increase rates until 2016, so that commuters would not be hit so hard in the first 10 years of the lease.

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