Trucking group sues over truck-only toll increase

This week, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed suit against several groups in Indiana over a recent toll increase that impacted only truckers. On Wednesday, January 9, OOIDA filed a class action lawsuit against Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, the Indiana Finance Authority, the Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. and other Indiana state officials over a recent toll increase, according to a report from the Tribune-Star. On October 5, 2018, tolls for Class 3 or higher vehicles on the Indiana Toll Road went up by 35% while the toll rate for passenger vehicles stayed the same. For a Class 5 vehicle traveling the entire length of the Indiana Toll Road, the toll increased from $44.46 to $60.02. The toll increase was put in place after Holcomb came to an agreement with the Indiana Finance Authority — if they increased tolls on trucks, he was to receive $1 billion worth of funding for an infrastructure improvement program called “Next Level Connections” that will be used to fund several projects that have little to do with the Indiana Toll Road. OOIDA’s suit argues that that toll increase violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which “impose limitations upon the authority of states to undertake measures that create an undue burden upon, or that discriminate against, interstate commerce.” The suit argues that it is unconstitutional for Indiana to use money generated from tolling truckers on the Indiana Toll Road to pay for non-roadway related projects like new hiking and biking trails, increasing broadband access to “underserved” areas, and increasing the number of nonstop flights out of Indiana airports. Only about $50 million was earmarked for Indiana Toll Road improvements. The lawsuits argues that it is unfair that truckers who must bear the burden of increased tolls do not benefit from many of these projects. “The $1 billion announced by Gov. Holcomb on Sept. 4, 2018 for inclusion in his Next Level Connections program was earmarked in its entirety for projects not functionally related to the Toll Road,” the lawsuit states.

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