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Toll Road questions continue to race along(Foreign Company Wins Lease, Update)
Northwest Indiana News ^ | 17 Feb 2006 | KEITH BENMAN

Posted on 02/18/2006 12:26:03 AM PST by Marius3188

PORTAGE | Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission members quizzed three top Indiana transportation officials for two hours Thursday on the controversial Indiana Toll Road lease.

They received firm answers to some questions that allayed some fears. But answers to others only heightened apprehensions.

"Our concern is what happens to the next generation and the next generation," said NIRPC chairman Kevin Breitzke. "Will they be cussing at us?"

For some questions, INDOT Director of Planning John Weaver admitted the answer simply won't be known until legislation is passed, public rule making is done or the lease signed.

"It's a work in progress, so I'm not sure we have all the answers," Weaver told about two dozen NIRPC members and staff in attendance.

LaPorte Mayor Leigh Morris wanted to know if building an extension of the proposed Illiana Expressway into LaPorte County would be barred by the noncompete clause in the lease agreement.

"It would not be a violation (of the lease)," Weaver said.

He explained that even if the Illiana connected with the Toll Road itself, the noncompete clause would not apply. That's because the clause only bars construction of 20 miles or more of limited access, interstate-standard highway within a 10-mile buffer zone of the Toll Road.

Weaver said only 10 miles of the Illiana would be within the buffer.

However, upgrading significant portions of U.S. 20 to those standards before the year 2061 would be a violation, according to the lease agreement.

The highly technical nature of the noncompete clause is typical of the more-than-100-page lease agreement. There are arbitration clauses providing for resolution of disputes.

In late January, Gov. Mitch Daniels announced an Austrian-Spanish consortium, Cintra-Macquarie, had bid $3.85 billion for the rights to collect tolls on the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years. Ever since, he has been campaigning for legislation to make the lease deal legal.

Thursday's NIRPC meeting came one day before Daniels was scheduled to face the public on the issue in a town-hall style meeting in Crown Point.

At Thursday's meeting, Weaver was joined by INDOT Deputy Commissioner Joseph Gustin and Michael McPhillips, Indiana Toll Road district deputy commissioner.

They filled in for INDOT Commissioner Tom Sharp, who was scheduled to attend but canceled to attend a Senate appropriations committee meeting on the Toll Road privatization bill.

On the question of tolls, Gustin pointed out a public state rule-making process in March will determine the base tolls for the Toll Road. Cintra-Macquarie will then be constrained by the lease agreement in how much it can raise those tolls.

Morris and Highland Clerk-Treasurer Michael Griffin wanted to know why competing Toll Road bids had not been made public.

Gustin said it would not serve anyone's interest to see the bids until a contract is signed.

"Why is that?" Morris said. "This is what we do all the time in the bidding process."

At one point, Gustin seemed to become frustrated with Griffin's highly technical questions on why Cintra-Macquarie can depreciate the asset in 50 years but will hold a lease for 75.

"I don't understand your concern with what will happen in year 51," Gustin said.

Breitzke said such questions are very important.

Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, a key supporter of Toll Road privatization, asked for a special NIRPC meeting to reconsider a commission resolution from two weeks ago.

That resolution asked that legislation authorizing the Toll Road lease not be passed in this session of the Indiana General Assembly. Instead, it recommended the issue be studied during the summer.

"We are at a point in our state where we need to build things," Costas said. "We have to ask, 'Is this the right time to make this bold move?' "

Breitzke agreed to attempt to convene a meeting before the Indiana General Assembly recesses in early March.


TOPICS: Government; Miscellaneous; US: Indiana; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: cintra; lease; macquarie; road; toll; tollroad
Morris and Highland Clerk-Treasurer Michael Griffin wanted to know why competing Toll Road bids had not been made public.

Gustin said it would not serve anyone's interest to see the bids until a contract is signed.

"Why is that?" Morris said. "This is what we do all the time in the bidding process."

I wonder if the UAE had a bid in?

1 posted on 02/18/2006 12:26:04 AM PST by Marius3188
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To: Willie Green

ping


2 posted on 02/18/2006 12:26:58 AM PST by Marius3188
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To: Marius3188

This and the UAE action are what can be expected when we have a huge balance of payments problem. Those dollars have to come back here somehow to maximize value to the holders; so it's a decision for them between US Treasury Bonds, the Stock Market or Direct Investment.


3 posted on 02/18/2006 4:05:16 AM PST by leadhead (Itís a duty and a responsibility to defeat them. But it's also a pleasure)
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To: Marius3188

Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas, a key supporter of Toll Road privatization, asked for a special NIRPC meeting to reconsider a commission resolution from two weeks ago.

Wasn't it Valparaiso that had someone's house assessed at 400 million last week. Now they have buget shortfalls because while they corrected the assessment they forgot to remove the taxes from their budget?

If so then it's no wonder the Mayor is a supporter of this - he has no clue!


4 posted on 02/18/2006 6:21:27 AM PST by msrngtp2002
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To: leadhead
This and the UAE action are what can be expected when we have a huge balance of payments problem.

UAE firm to run 6 U.S. ports(Nation tied to 9/11 hijackers could influence terminals)
Malkin: Stop the Port Sellout / Our Ports, Our Sovereignty (+UAE links to 9/11)
The NAFTA Corridors: Offshoring U.S. Transportation Jobs to Mexico
Pat Buchanan : America's Hollow Prosperity

On behalf of transnational business interests, George W. Bush is willfully conducting a Trade War against the peaceful prosperity of the American Middle Class.

"I am one of those who do not believe that a national debt is a national blessing, but rather a curse to a republic; inasmuch as it is calculated to raise around the administration a moneyed aristocracy dangerous to the liberties of the country."

-- President Andrew Jackson - (1824)


5 posted on 02/18/2006 9:11:31 AM PST by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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