Indiana Toll Road

Last week’s heavy flooding in northwest Indiana has subsided, though there are still long-lasting effects to be dealt with. One of the things that may have escaped many of us around the state, should have some impact on the gubernatorial race in Indiana.

During this natural disaster, many heavily traveled roadways were closed in the region. In order to alleviate some of the congestion, a 25 mile stretch of the Indiana Toll Road was temporarily turned into a freeway at the request of the governor. Macquarie-Cintra, the leaseholder, agreed. The tolls went back into effect by the end of last week.

Now it is found out that the state will reimburse Macquarie-Cintra for any lost revenue during this emergency situation. It isn’t known yet what the price tag will be, but the Daniels administration will tap into the $3.8 billion trust fund that this consortium paid the state for the right to collect tolls on the highway for 75 years. In other words, Macquarie-Cintra will get some of their money back. A few more emergencies and they may have it all back with a wink and a nod from Mitch.

Of course, the transfer of this money back to the consortium is all fine and dandy from a legal perspective. The lease agreement provides for just such a contingency. It states that a loss of revenue of this sort will be paid back from the fund paid to the state. Even shortfalls of revenue resulting from decreased traffic flow on the highway would trigger such a pay back.

In other words, if business goes great on the Toll Road, and Macqurie-Cintra makes a profit, we get to actually keep the money. But if revenue falls and profits dry up, they get their money back. So the state is basically a repositor for Macquarie-Cintra money, rather than the recipient of funds that can be used at the state’s discretion.

The trickle of money that will now begin with this repayment for last weeks natural disaster may become a flood of it’s own during the remainder of the time left on the lease. And we could all be left holding our share of nothing as the money finds its way back to Spain and Australia.