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(INDIANAPOLIS) – You won’t pay any new tolls on Indiana highways — at least for the foreseeable future.

Governor Holcomb says in a letter to legislators that between last year’s gas tax increase and a deal this year with the company which operates the Indiana Toll
Road, the state has plenty of money for road construction he won’t pursue new tolls. But he warns INDOT expects road funding to start declining in about seven years as cars get more fuel efficient.

House Ways and Means co-chairman Todd Huston (R-Fishers) says the decision is both appropriate and unsurprising. He says if money begins to run short in future years, the state can revisit tolling then. House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) agrees it’s the right call to reject tolling, and adds “it would take a lot of convincing” to make it a worthwhile option later.

The gas tax bill ordered INDOT to study tolling. The agency has delivered a general outline of what new toll roads would look like if a future governor wanted to do it. It’s also recommending research into other future options, like a fee based on how many miles you drive.

INDOT focused its study on I-65 and I-70 as the best candidates to convert to toll roads, but says Indiana’s other interstates could be tolled as well. The study says toll roads around the country charge between four and 10 cents a mile for cars, with trucks paying three-to-six times as much. The Indiana Toll Road is right in the middle of that range at seven cents. INDOT calculates using that same rate for 65 and 70 would raise one-point-four-billion dollars a year by 2045.

But the agency cautions it would take four years to collect the first tolls, and decades before the road was complete. INDOT envisions a tollbooth-free open-road plan, with toll arches and electronic sensors reading your license plate or window sticker and sending you a bill.

(Photo: Jens Lambert/Thinkstock)