The Hammer and Nigel Show
Governor Eric Holcomb Talks The Next Level Connections Project with WIBC hosts Hammer and Nigel
(Jim Watson/Getty Images)
Tolls are increasing for commercial vehicles in Indiana to pay for an infrastructure project that includes several major upgrades to roads, and opponents of the plan have been extremely critical of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb for what they have dubbed a "war on truckers."
The Next Level Connections project, which was announced by Governor Holcomb and approved by the Indianapolis City Council this week, will be supported by a one-time toll increase for heavy vehicles with three or more axles traveling on the Indiana Toll Road on Oct. 5, 2018.
The state will be using the extra money, which amounts to as much as $1 billion according to The Journal Gazette, for roads and other infrastructure improvement projects, including:
Expanding the existing Intelligent Transportation System across the eastern and western sections;
Extending fiber optic cable along the full length of the ITR;
Increasing overnight truck parking capacity by over 20%;
Delivering a “smart truck parking” system; and
Implementing electric truck parking stations at all of the eight travel plaza
Gary Langston, president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association has been one of the most outspoken critics of the project, telling WIBC earlier this week that, "The administration likes to make people think that as long as it's only trucks no one else will be impacted." He also characterized the way the toll funds were being used as a waste of money, adding that even though passenger cars wouldn't see increased tolls, the price to haul goods would likely go up, increasing the cost to the consumer.
Governor Holcomb joined WIBC hosts Hammer and Nigel on Thursday to defend the plan, noting that while tolls on commercial vehicles will be funding the project, truckers will also receive the greatest benefit from that investment in infrastructure upgrades.
"We made sure that the deal we did and put together is something that will benefit truckers and all of Indiana.
...We've all seen the studies, and five axle trucks do about ten thousand times the amount of wear and tear on a road than a passenger car. So we made sure that this deal that we negotiated with the company party to party was a good deal for all of Indiana."
As for critics who ask why the funds from last year's major hike in the gas tax aren't covering these infrastructure projects, Governor Holcomb pointed to an accelerated pace for completing these critical updates.
"The gas tax definitely gets us out for a 20 year long-term paid-for program, but this helps us accelerate a lot of those projects and helps us do other projects like broad-ban and international flights, and it helps us right now.
...And so it really sends a message to the world. We want to take advantage of our address, our location as we can."
Click the link below to hear Hammer and Nigel's full interview with Governor Holcomb: