The Associated Press has an article entitled “Toll Road An Epic Mess, Donnelly Says”. The operator to whom we leased the Indiana Toll Road for 75 long years has gone bankrupt about 10% of the way through the lease term. One of the selling points, back in 2006, was Gov. Daniels saying “if the leasing consortium goes bankrupt, “the Toll Road reverts back to the state’s control.””
Because this is not, in fact, true, the AP article says that Gov. Daniels “misspoke.” It’s plausible that Gov. Daniels believed that to be true but was wrong. But, even if we give him that benefit of the doubt, I still wouldn’t call that “misspeaking.” He said what he meant to say.
I have not driven the Toll Road in years. (Once again, a big thanks to the motorists of Northern Indiana for subsidizing the roads of southlanders like me. That’s mighty nice of you.) So, not having seen it, I can’t say first hand what it’s condition might be. Political opponents of the toll road deal have an incentive to paint the conditions as a scene out of the Road Warrior, soaked in the urine of hobos.
Sen. Joe Donnelly called the situation “a mess of epic proportions” and has asked the Indiana Finance Authority, which owns the toll road, to ensure that road conditions are safe, toll booths are staffed, and rest plazas and restrooms are clean.
“The people of northern Indiana and the entire state of Indiana deserve better and were promised better,” he said.
Travelers have complained of long waits at toll plazas, bridges that haven’t been repaired in more than a year and rest stops that reek of urine, Donnelly told The Times in Munster.
According to the article, however, the State gets the road back only if the post-bankruptcy, restructured entity defaults on its obligations. My sense (without having read the lease in several years) is that, absent a pretty bright line default, getting the road back for subjective concerns about road conditions would happen only after lengthy, scorched earth litigation.