An amendment to the Indiana Toll Road lease allows the private operator more flexibility to bring in more money.
The ‘alternative revenue’ would be above and beyond that brought in by tolls.
The amendment goes on to spell out five specific ways the revenue can be gained: Through agreements related to things like advertising, cell towers, third party roadside assistance program and fiber optic cable.
“I think it’s good if we can raise revenues without hitting the users or taxpayers, then it’s a good thing,” said Ind. Rep. Dale Devon, (R) Granger. “If we can create funds through advertisement then we’re able to help put that money back in for the good of people using the toll road.”
Ind. Rep. Ryan Dvorak, (D) South Bend feels the state is trying to expand the scope of the lease agreement. “They’re talking about cell tower leases, there was a whole range of things that were listed, if we've got this toll road operator is offering cut rate deals are they going to undercut private business that's operating along the corridor?”
The amendment also restricts the use of alternative revenues for purposes related to “safety and/or customer service maximization.”
“I don’t know what customer maximization means,” said Rep. Dvorak.
“Obviously any money they generate that goes back into operating expenses that means they can just haul more off the tolls for profit so it's all going to go into the pockets of the concessionaire.”
The amendment also specifies that the revenue can come from “other commercially reasonable agreements.”
The amendment was approved Thursday by the Indiana Finance Authority which oversees the toll road lease.