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Indiana governor praises toll road lease

  |   May 24, 2006 at 1:30 PM
WASHINGTON, May 24 (UPI) -- Gov. Mitch Daniels told a U.S. House panel a $3.8 billion deal to lease the Indiana Toll Road to a Spanish-Australian consortium is a model for other states.

The first-term Republican governor said the long-term lease of a state-owned highway would finance at least $3 billion in road repair and infrastructure improvements over the next decade without raising the state gasoline tax or any tax. The 200 projects in the "Major Moves" construction proposal would create an estimated 130,000 jobs.

"Indiana's Major Moves is one example of the spreading trend of innovative alternatives to address the nation's growing infrastructure problems," Daniels said in remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday to a subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Washington.

He said the 274-mile northern Indiana toll system operated at a loss for five of the past seven years and had been inadequately maintained.

However, a lawsuit by opponents could derail the lease, which must close by June 30.

Last year, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley raised $1.83 billion with a 99-year lease of the Chicago Skyway, which connects to Indiana's tollway system.

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