Citizen activists KILL toll road plans in Indiana

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Our fellow citizens in Indiana managed to pull off a feat no one thought possible…they KILLED a toll road deal. NEVER give up!

Dead end for Illiana Expressway plan

Indiana Post-Tribune
March 25, 2007
Gov. Mitch Daniels on Saturday took an ax to plans for the Illiana Expressway.

Daniels has asked state legislators to nix the Illiana Expressway east of Interstate 65, sparing the eastern third of Lake County, all of southern Porter County and a portion of LaPorte County from the roadway’s construction.

In the same breath, Daniels snuffed out plans for the beleaguered Indiana Commerce Connector in central Indiana, which would have built a 75-mile toll road in counties surrounding Marion County and Indianapolis.

The governor, however, still supports construction of the Illiana Expressway from I-65 near Lowell west to I-57 in Illinois, claiming that portion of the public-private toll road has been” broadly supported.”

But the vocal groups opposing the Illiana Expressway and the Indiana Commerce Connector, including the local Citizens Against the Privatized Illiana Tollroad apparently spoke loudly enough for Daniels to take heed.

Daniels on Saturday sent a letter to state Sen. Thomas Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, and state Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, withdrawing his suggestion that action be taken on the two roadways, except for the western swath of the Illiana Expressway.

“Either of these ideas might benefit from further research, and I would welcome some form of that if your committees are so inclined,” Daniels said in the letter. “But the people of the affected areas have spoken clearly enough to persuade me that these ideas are, at best, premature.”

Wyss is the author of Senate Bill 1, which authorizes the public-private partnerships needed to build the two toll roads and allows for companies to submit proposals. The bill passed through the state Senate in February.

It now sits in committee before Austin, the House Transportation chairwoman. Prior to Daniels’ announcement Saturday, the bill was expected to receive major write-throughs in the House.

“There’s nothing that says the House has to amend that bill,” state Sen. Vic Heinold, R-Kouts, said. “But the bill won’t go through as is. I’m sure the committee’s chair will honor the governor’s request.”

Daniels said he hopes legislators will consider moving ahead with plans for the Illiana Expressway in central and western Lake County. It would run between I-65 near Lowell to I-57 in Illinois.