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Question of the Month ~ September 2014

 

Q. What states in the Midwest have toll roads and how much revenue is collected from them?

Illinois, Indiana, Kansas and Ohio have toll roads on part of their interstate highway systems, and a fifth Midwestern state, Minnesota, now offers express toll lanes to motorists who use some of the highly traveled interstates in the Twin Cities area.
Illinois’ tollway system is the region’s largest — 286 miles in length and mostly traversing the Chicago metropolitan area. It also collects the most toll revenue in the Midwest, about $1 billion in 2012. That amount is equal to more than 15 percent of the state’s total receipts for highways, according to the most recent federal “Highway Statistics” report. (Other sources of revenue for highways in Illinois, and other states, include gas and vehicle taxes, federal funds, bonds and general-fund dollars).
No other state in the Midwest comes close to Illinois’ numbers, but Ohio is second. The 241-mile Ohio Turnpike had toll revenue of more than $250 million in 2012. The toll road in Kansas runs 236 miles through the state’s most populated and heavily traveled areas. In 2012, the Kansas Turnpike collected close to $87 million in toll revenue.
Eight years ago, Indiana leased its 157-mile toll road to a private consortium and used proceeds from the 75-year agreement to pay for transportation projects. More recently, Ohio lawmakers chose to leverage their state’s toll road’s assets to pay for other transportation projects. Under HB 51, passed in 2013, up to $1.5 billion in bonds can be issued — backed by future toll revenues. Soon after the legislation was passed, toll rates were increased for longer-distance trips on the Ohio Turnpike.
Minnesota’s use of express toll lanes was first authorized by the Legislature in 2003. These lanes are now in place on portions of I-35W and I-394. Drivers have the option of paying a toll to access these lanes. The fee for using these lanes depends on the level of traffic congestion. (On I-394, high-occupancy vehicles can access the express lanes free of charge.)
In Michigan and Wisconsin, the idea of adding toll roads has gained some interest among legislators as they look for ways to improve their state’s transportation infrastructure and pay for it.
Under current federal law, though, states cannot establish new toll roads on existing interstate highways. The Obama administration has proposed easing this restriction in the next transportation reauthorization bill. Existing U.S. statute does allow states to add toll express lanes.

 

Article written by Tim Anderson, CSG Midwest publications manager. Question of the Month highlights an inquiry received by CSG Midwest through its Information Help Line.