Indiana’s Toll Road: Buyer’s or Seller’s Remorse?

Written by Mike Claytor

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported the company that purchased[1] Indiana’s Toll Road was going bankrupt, “the latest example of a private investment in public infrastructure that failed to meet expectations.” I am not against all privatization. Privatization done the right way can be an effective management tool for government and private business to work together.

What is happening today, however, is the state shirking its responsibility to protect the assets owned by the taxpayers and toll payers of Indiana. The fallout from a failed privatization is coming home to roost and no one seems to be protecting our interests.

The state administration is telling us not to worry, we still own the Toll Road and all that will happen is a change in management companies. The Governor is promising that tolls will not go up and that the State will not have to pay back any of the $3.8 billion. The state administration is telling us that there is no reason for us to be concerned and intervene in the Bankruptcy proceedings related to the Indiana Toll Road.

Apparently, the state administration has never heard of the power of a Federal Bankruptcy Court. Contracts and lease agreements get modified all the time in Bankruptcy proceedings. We do not know what our lease agreement will look like if the creditors’ committee has their way with it.

Our former State Treasurer was able to intervene in Bankruptcy Court to try to put Hoosier Chrysler workers out on the street. Our Attorney General can intervene in every Court he can find to prevent people who love each other from getting married. But apparently, our Attorney General has no time to intervene in a Bankruptcy Court to protect Hoosier ownership of a 3.8 billion dollar state asset.

It may be that the only way for Hoosiers to get their Toll Road back is to go into Bankruptcy Court and BUY IT BACK from the creditors.

Our state administration took the $3.8 billion – 75 year value of the Toll Road and spent it all in 8 years. If the Bankruptcy Court starts asking for some of that money back, we might have to sell I-69 to buy the Toll Road out of Bankruptcy.

Our taxpayers deserve better. We deserve someone who will fight to protect our state assets as well as watch our taxpayer dollars and our toll revenues.

[1] We technically leased, not sold, the Toll Road for 75 years

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