After privatization, Indiana Toll Road's biggest difference is the price

By THEODORE KIM / The Dallas Morning News

ELKHART, Ind. – The welcome signs still say "Indiana." The truck stops sell the same greasy hamburgers. And the road still carries thousands of drivers daily across the far northern part of the state between Ohio and Illinois.

But motorists on the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road have noticed one big difference since it came into private hands: They are paying higher tolls for the first time since 1985.

Fees for cash-paying car motorists who drive the whole road nearly doubled recently. Truckers pay even more. Toll rates, which the state partially regulates, are expected to double again within 10 years.

"The American trucker would like to thank Indiana for raising our tolls," Bruce Mansavage, a 51-year-old trucker from Pine City, Minn., said sarcastically during a recent stop in Indiana.

Texans need look no further than the Hoosier State for a glimpse at what private toll roads might mean for them.

While the models are different, the concept is the same. Texas is looking at private firms to build and run new roads, while Indiana privatized a highway that opened in the 1950s. But both states are outsourcing toll roads in exchange for upfront cash, using that money to build new highways. (MORE)

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I have to laugh. This afternoon on air Brian and I talked about the Indiana toll roads being sold and magically a post appears from Paul Wohlfarth who doesn't listen to the station. Incredible coincidence or amazing coincidence?

Any statement I make is the opinion of me exercising my first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and is generally permitted.

Laugh you will when the privatized Turnpike jacks up its rates and food costs. Making it private only punishes this area of Northwest Ohio. All other areas of Ohio have public roads (no tolls). Fred Lefebvre this has been all over the news not just some backwater radio station in Toledo. As far as the make believe Toledoan Brian he won't be driving the Turnpike anytime soon all he cares is to get "the most idiotic, aggressively ignorant, apathetic, delusional morons I have ever encountered in 45+ years of Talk radio. This gaggle of people is concentrated in NW Ohio, specifically the “greater” Toledo metropolitan area." (his words ) to listen to his rantings so he can cash his paycheck and pay his Virginia mortgage (we hope).

Published: Sun, December 12, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.
Hands off the Ohio Turnpike
The question of privatizing the Ohio Turnpike wasn’t even an issue in the 2010 gubernatorial race between Incumbent Ted Strickland, a Democrat, and Republican challenger John Kasich. The question was raised in July while Kasich was campaigning with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who sold a 75-year lease on the 157-mile Indiana turnpike to a consortium of foreign investors for $3.8 billion. Both Kasich and Strickland declared that they had no intention of privatizing the turnpike.

That was then; this is now. And now that he’s been elected, Kasich is acknowledging that his staff is looking at leasing Ohio’s 241-mile turnpike to private interests. He stipulates that the timing might not be right, but “we definitely haven’t taken it off the table.”

Well, it should be taken off the table, especially by a self-described conservative, because selling (or leasing, or rebranding) a public asset such as the Ohio Turnpike is one of the least conservative things any politician could do.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Putting operation of the turnpike into private hands in exchange for an up-front payment of millions of dollars that will be used to balance the budget or finance other capital improvement projects is about as close as it gets to theft of a public asset.

The turnpike was built with bonds that were repaid over decades by users of the road exclusively, not through general tax revenue. Some of the land on which the road was built was taken by the government through eminent domain.

Taking such an asset and turning its operation over to a for-profit corporation in order to fill a budget hole is at best irresponsible.

The turnpike is a valuable asset for economic development and it has historically been well managed. As the Turnpike Commission’s Web site notes, since the toll road opened in 1955, the Consumer Price Index has increased more than 6.5 times, but Ohio Turnpike tolls for passenger cars increased by less than 2.5 times.

Would any lease the state negotiated contain a provision that the increase in tolls over the next half century would be kept to less than half the CPI? Obviously the lease would not assure that all of the tolls would go toward upkeep and improvement of the road, since the new operators would be duty bound to provide a profit for their investors.

Selling assets such as the turnpike are get-rich-quick schemes for the seller and get-rich-over-time propositions for the buyer. The users are the losers.

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

Wolfman, the Turnpike was going to be privatized no matter who was in office. It's an asset, and it represents a way to fill a budget hole now (hence kicking the need to cut spending down the road some more), and it represents kickbacks and other corruption that politicians are so susceptible to.

I always tell people to avoid the Turnpike. As a poster on SB clearly said, it's overpriced to begin with (since it should have been paid for by now), and it's patrolled ruthlessly by the OSHP. You can get to Sandusky via Rt.2; it's more scenic, cheaper, and less prone to being ticketed for no real reason.

Oh, lest I forget, the toll takers are unionized, which automatically means they are the enemy. They get paid $20/hr plus benefits to perform the job of a CASHIER, which around Toledo pays about $8-10/hr under the free market. That's another thing you're paying for with the tolls: Union dirtbags. It's like stealing without using a gun.

As for getting to Cleveland, or for truckers, well, those people are well and truly screwed.

Just another boondoggle......I'm old enough to remember when they promised the Ohio Turnpick would be a FREE HIGHWAY once the CONTRUCTION COSTS were recooped...

“Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.”

I have no problem with paying to drive on the turnpyke. The fees go directly toward the roads first. If we did that with other fees that had to deal with driving our roads would be properly paved.

I wish we did that with other taxes and fees too.


It is a tax. Northern Ohio pays a tax to use the expressway to go east or west. This is on top of the taxes we pay to maintain FREE roads for travel between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Having to pay for the turnpike also forces many cars and trucks to use RT 2 and RT24, causing those roads to break down faster and more accidents.

Now Republicans want to sell the road so they can add the money to the state coffers instead of at least in theory having to re-invents the money into the turnpike.

It is not a tax.

If I don't want to drive on the turnpyke I don't have to pay the toll.

If I don't want to send my kids to public school I still pay the school tax.

Therein lies the difference.


didn't the OH tolls go up approx 50% this past year?


Unless you have an EZ Pass, then the rates stayed the same.

There's a city full of walls you can post complaints at

The Indiana turnpike tolls rose right after they went private in 2006. Ohio I think they instituted e-z pass which raised some fees to pay for the system.

Ohio Turnpike E-ZPass wins favor as raised tolls boost revenue

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

so you're saying the 50% increase for non-EZ pass users was to pay for the system?

i'm trying to understand why you wouldn't be upset about ohio's big toll increase as well. additionally, let's not forget there was another ohio toll increase back in 2007.

lastly, i also remember reading there is another toll increase for ohio scheduled in 2012.

I'm not happy with the increase, still waiting for it to go toll free like we were promised. I think Northwest Ohio is subsidizing the three Cs. But to think that privatizing will lower costs is just foolish right wing rhetoric. The hope that someday the system would be no toll would be lost if privatized. Just look at the Ambassador bridge in Detroit.
Once moneyed gets their manipulative hands on this asset the union worker wage will be a distant talking point of the silly libertarians. The new owners will lavish on our elected and jack up tolls till it hurts all of us at retailers across Northwest Ohio.

Oh I'm sorry the rich billionaires would never do what the Morouns have done with their privatized Ambassador bridge. I know it's all the union workers fault right Fred?

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

Privatization doesn't work in cases like this because for privatization to work there must be competition. There is no other toll road to compete with the turnpyke.

And it's not "right wing rhetoric" because not every right wing person wants it. Myself included.

Privatizing this is another way to line the coffers of government without instituting a tax. It's no different than trash fees or redlight cameras. I'm against all of these. They are irresponsible ways to govern and it should be stopped.


It's good to see we have such a sensible right-wing person here. Yes, being right-wing doesn't mean that you support such senseless privatization. Privatizing the Turnpike would be a bad move. It would be sold too cheaply, just to reward a connected bidder, and to pad government spending now. It would cause prices to climb.

What a penultimate right-winger would demand is that the unions running the labor force of the Turnpike be dismantled, and wages fall to what they should be for such labor. The cashiers in those booths should not be making $20/hr. The going rate for a cashier in NWO is $8-10/hr.

Of course, since the Turnpike has long since paid for itself, the ultimate right-winger would demand that it be de-tolled as was promised when it was made.

Well I don't have a problem with them not detolling it. I agree that was the way it was sold and they should have kept that promise. But keeping low tolls just for upkeep is very sensible in my opinion.

I wish they would make the turnpyke free for at least the semi's. Most of the problems we've had of deadly accidents along 24 and 2 are due to trucking companies who are trying to avoid the turnpyke tolls. At least keeping them off those other roads onto one that's heavily patrolled by state officials makes our roads safer.

But again that's something that would actually make the roads safer without lining the pockets of the state coffers like red light cameras so I doubt they'll ever do it.


Yes GZ I agree if Kasich was truly a conservative he would de-toll the turnpike as was promised so many years ago. The damn thing was long ago paid for and its time we make it a free road.

Statements made are the opinion of the writer who is exercising his first amendment right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and are generally permitted.

I think that they would have gone up anyway. Costs increase and so does the charge. Granted it would probably be cheaper if it wasn't private.

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