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Saturday, November 07, 2020 1:00 am

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Truckers challenge Toll Road fee hike

Indiana's 2018 infrastructure improvement plan is facing a rough ride in federal court, where a trucking association has challenged the toll increase levied on commercial vehicles as unfair.

Attorneys for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association argued before a Seventh Circuit panel Oct. 26 that Indiana singles out heavy vehicles in its operation of the Indiana Toll Road. The association leads a federal class action suit joined by multiple trucking companies challenging the 35% increase in tolls that went into effect last year.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and ITR Concession Company, the private company that leases the road, are among the defendants in the suit, which alleges the toll discriminates against interstate traffic and violates rules pertaining to what toll money can be used for, according to a report from Courthouse News Service.

Revenue from the toll road is being used to support the statewide infrastructure improvement plan, which includes expanding broadband access in rural areas and improving airport access with $1 billion in payments from the trucker toll hike.

“None of the intended expenditures of any portion of the $1 billion is intended to contribute to the maintenance, operation, or improvement of the toll road,” the truckers' complaint states. “Funding these projects with toll receipts violates constitutional protections guaranteed to users of the toll road.”

The suit also claims a violation of the federal commerce clause.

“The artificial inflation of the tolls for trucks to use the toll road has and will continue to have significant and adverse effects on interstate commerce,” the lawsuit states.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young dismissed the case in March for failure to state a claim. His order is on appeal before the Chicago-based Seventh Circuit. The three-judge panel took the case under advisement.


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